This year, I'm spending July 4th with my grandparents in Mississippi. Here, you can get REAL (read: dangerous) fireworks, unlike the pissy little sparklers they limit you to in Maryland.
The fireworks were actually an anticlimax this year, but who cares--I've been in a nearly constant state of geekout since Saturday. I WENT TO FAULKNER'S HOUSE!!! (the one in Oxford, near University of Mississippi--or as the locals call it, Ole Miss). No better way to celebrate the 4th of July than to visit the home of a legendary American novelist...unless you follow up that visit with lunch at the Ajax Diner, home of the most orgasmically tasty mac-an-cheese on the face of the planet. NO SERIOUSLY. IT IS AMAZING. I had a sausage po-boy sandwich and stole my mom's mac-an-cheese. They also had amazing salads, classics like chicken and dumplings and catfish, AND an extensive vegetarian menu.
And just when you're thinking you can't POSSIBLY top that...there's Square Books. It's a sad fact that e-books and Amazon are slowly destroying the indie (independent) bookstores. It's getting ever more difficult to find quality indie bookstores, and even harder to find said bookstores of a good size. But fear not, state of Mississippi (and the rest of America), because Square Books is all that and more. It's well-organized, personalized and personable, and it has a coffee shop with reading tables on the second story. And if you have kids, there's a Square Books Jr. across the street.
I guess it helps business that Oxford is a college town and the home of William Faulkner from 1930-62. I bought/stiff-armed my parents into buying Sanctuary (Faulkner), Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, and Xenocide (Orson Scott Card). I've started with the Welty stories, and they are fresh and delightful to read--like literary snacks for when you're not hungry enough to consume a Faulkner novel.
Today initiated a fresh geekout--I got to visit the ONLY PETRIFIED FOREST IN THE EASTERN U.S. I used to have a serious obsession/hobby with rocks of all kinds, and as I looked around the visitor center and museum, I could feel old bits of knowledge and passion rekindling. After petting the yowling cat outside, I purchased some new samples for my collection: a Thunderegg from Oregon, Tlaloc (Rain God) agate from Mexico, Bird's-Eye jasper, and Mississippi agate. And then it rained...I blame the Thunderegg and Tlaloc. They were having a rain god showdown in my sample bag, or something. Also we ate at Penn's, where I had another po-boy sandwich (fried catfish) and my mom refused to let my dad buy chicken livers.
OK, geekout over. I know I was supposed to do an interview today for TWSB--but I left it to the last minute and then tried to interview my brother. Yeah...
May the Fourth (of July. get it??) be with you. I have had waaay too much sweet tea.