Of books and things.

Currently reading Lorrie Moore’s “A gate at the stairs.” I always have to check the spelling of her name because I feel like I’m confusing Moore the author with the country singer … which is actually Lorrie Morgan but it’s close enough to confuse.   Mystery solved.

Moore is a fabulous writer, and I have my friend’s mother, Ingrid, to thank for turning me on to her. Clara (friend) was home in Seattle at Christmas and her mother was talking about Moore’s writing. I first read “Who will run the frog hospital?” and thought … who would not be intrigued by the title alone. Next up was “Self-help,” a collection of short stories that were equally scandalous, heart-rending and entertaining/amusing. I’m now reading “A gate at the stairs,” as stated above. Yes, I’m repeating myself.

Cover of Gate at the stairs, by Lorrie Moore

I love love love Moore’s writing and find her work equally depressing, as a writer. She is clever, smart, silly, true-to-life. Could I ever dare to write such fine books?

Reading some of her passages, with parenthetical phrases, reminds me of being with a silly friend who inserts a quip into whatever serious situation may be happening. To illustrate:

I loved to say quasi. I was saying it now a lot, instead of sort of, or kind of, and it had become a tic. “I am quasi ready to go,” I would announce. … Murph called me Quasimodo. Or Kami-quasi. Or wild and quasi girl.

I don’t want to give away story lines or twists that I’ve already uncovered in this book.  It’s a post-9/11 reflection on the life of a young college woman in the Midwest.

I once was a young college woman in the Midwest, though there aren’t loads of comparisons with my life.  And enough about me – read Lorrie Moore.  Listen to Lorrie Morgan, if you’re so inspired, too. I’m currently playing (thanks to her web site): “Leavin’ on your mind.”

Of Seattle flash mobs, and the move to gmail

His name is Bobby, and he is 23. Bobby is a choreographer, photographer and video producer, among other skills. He recently choreographed a flash mob in Seattle to tunes from “Glee,” and I decided to participate.

Bobby and his team had produced a Michael Jackson “Beat It” flash mob last August, with performances in Pike Place Market and Kerry Park. My friend Kareem, who lives in DC, had sent me a story at the time and had asked, “Why were you not a part of this?”

When I saw the announcement for the flash mob, I knew that I had to at least check it out. I really dug “Glee,” and it spoke to that part of me who would like to be a singer on Broadway. I didn’t make it to rehearsals, but there was still time to learn the routine the day of the event in Cal Anderson Park in Seattle. I made the commitment the night before, and began seriously following the instructional videos to get some of the moves down. I decided I would head to the park in the morning, and if it wasn’t for me, then I could go home.

I arrived around 9:45, and saw a few people milling around waiting for the flash mob. Jessica from Puyallup and I bonded pretty quickly. She was a teacher, and we were both by ourselves. We were normal, and, I guess, Gleeks (AKA fans of “Glee” who are geeky about it.)

Rehearsal was fun and productive, and we spent a few hours with 800 strangers learning dance moves.  We saw part of the “A” team performance, which included Bobby and Beth, co-choreographer and a UW student.

Taking part in the flash mob was totally something different for me and loads of fun.  I’m so glad that I met Jessica, so that I didn’t feel quite so alone. We walked all over the city that day and by the time the last performance or so rolled around, my legs were really killing me.  The “Gold digger” dance (music by Kanye West) involved a lot of crouching and my thighs had received an intense workout.

Jump forward to gmail, the original point of this post. When I heard Beth went to the UW, I thought it would make a great story for University Week. I set up an interview with her and she put me in touch with Bobby. Jessica and I had our photo taken with him after the final flash mob performance at Pioneer Square, and he had accepted a friend request on Facebook. I was back in seventh grade again, or something.

The interview with Bobby went well and in the end, he asked me to send him a copy of the story when it ran. He said he’d send me an email with his address. I provided my AOL account and, trying to be cool, I said, “I’m old school.” He said, “More like geriatric,” with a laugh. I was mortified. I am, after all, 45 … which means middle-age, I suppose. But I’m hardly geriatric. Apart from the early-stage osteoarthritis that ended my jogging career earlier in the year.

Bobby then told me me as a dance instructor, he and his fellow 20-something teachers are always afraid when someone requests a lesson and they have an AOL account. The fear is it’s someone who will be so old, they can’t move, let alone dance. I was devastated by this revelation, and my harmless sort of crush on this 23-year-old dance genius quickly withered away.

I joked around again. “I won’t hold this against you,” I said. “Of course you won’t, because you’re a professional,” he said, with a hint of nervous laughter.

We hung up and he called back a few minutes later. He said he had some additional  names of UW students, if I needed any additional interviews. “Oh,” I said. “I thought you were calling me back to apologize for calling me geriatric.” “Oh, right,” he said. “I guess that was sort of rude.” He then covered by saying, “Well, your voice sounds very young…” which is, of course, true. Well played, Mr. Choreographer.  Bobby also sent an apologetic email and said he is not always diplomatic in interviews and was suffering from a lack of sleep.

I’d dug my own proverbial grave by keeping the AOL account I had since the launch of the Internet, and I ended up thanking him in a return email for being honest. I was then miffed that my 30- and 40-something friends had never mentioned I should upgrade my account to something more modern. My parents use AOL, for Christ’s sake. I guess that could have been a clue, but I can be lazy about some things.

I upgraded to Gmail that night, finally tapping into an account I’d previously established but just never used.

Shortly after that and entirely unrelated to the story I just shared, Bobby changed his status on Facebook to “in a relationship.” I’m sure he has an age-appropriate girlfriend. And, with my crush dissipated, I can find someone closer to my age to start crushing on.

Hoosier roots

Called Deno today in Boston. I was overdue at ringing him back after he texted me right before I took off for Mexico.  We know each other from grad school at Indiana University (IU) and when we met there, we realized we knew a lot of the same people growing up. Deno grew up in Munster, Ind., while I was just over the bridge in Highland.

I am reconnecting with my roots this weekend, not only with the call to Deno but also watching Butler play in the final four.  The Butler coach went to DePauw, my alma mater and I haven’t been watching basketball enough of late … so all good reasons to stay home and watch some hoops8th grade cheerleading photo - Highland Jr High.

Here’s an old photo from back in the day – 8th grade cheerleading, me in the back. It was homecoming because we have fancy corsages.  Let’s go Butler! I hope John Mellencamp sings the national anthem.