“To Near-Earth Objects and Beyond”

Back in the early ’90s, my parents were egalitarian, easy going, nonconformists who drove their kids from Wheat Ridge, Colorado, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in a beat up Ford Econovan–a pre-SUV behemoth vehicle that had several peculiarities: way, way back seating consisting of a foam mattress, a toddler’s training toilet to prevent unnecessary stops, and dual gas tanks that ensured we could haul the 500 miles as fast as humanly possible.

Had we not spent summers schlepping back and forth in the freewheeling back of that death trap to see my dad’s family, I might not have taken eight uninterrupted hours each trip to practice my handwriting. I’d lay on the back mattress and sign my name over and over and over again. I’d write the alphabet letter by letter in a single, continuous stroke.

I added extra loops to my o’s, my f’s, my k’s, my b’s. I wanted my handwriting to look as glamorous as I’d always wanted to be, a difficult feat to be certain, considering I thought this while only feet away from a full and sloshing travel potty.

My mother has always had exquisite penmanship, even back in undergraduate when she rocked a fierce backhand. I have her literature journals from that time, and I love to thumb through the thin, college ruled notebook paper reading my 20-year-old mom’s dissection of Vonnegut. In her handwriting, I can see her, I can smell her.

I now have a first hand understanding as to why Albert Einstein’s letters, which will be auctioned off next week, will fetch “upwards of $20,000-$30,000” on the block. Those handwritten ideas just somehow say more than a typed letter could ever convey.

Of course, I write this blog by typing on a computer, my own handwriting, so studiously perfected during those summer journeys, now nearly defunct. The only time I strive to create beautiful cursive is when I’m signing my autograph.

This is not a common occurrence.

On those rare occasions I do enjoy this blush of notoriety, I’m usually bereft of ideas as to what to write. Love? Baci? Grazie? Especially when signing the sleek, black cover of my Einstein’s Girl album, I feel the need to actually say something.

That’s where Paul Fidalgo comes in. He wrote a wonderful blog called Near-Earth Object, so named after the Thomas Dolby-Dr. Fiorella Terenzi song N.E.O. Thanks to Paul, Dolby (another of whose songs appears on the record), and the original Italian singing physicist, I now know exactly what to write.

Postscript–I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to Paul several times on his thought provoking podcasts. Listen to us chat about the science of performing and remaining true to oneself in Episode 1 of the Obcast, hear me call myself an “ersatz geek” and nearly be laughed off The iMortal Show: Episode 1, and then catch my true geek in action as we discuss our unnatural attachments to shiny technology in Episode 3. Paul now blogs for Patheos; subscribe to iMortal today!

Post-Postscript–It’s truly shameful that the only time I really get to spend talking with Paul is on his show. Seriously, someone invent a teleporting machine so I can go hang out with Paul, his amazing wife Jessica, and their two fab kiddos in Maine. Please? I’m feeling a little cocky about my Scrabble playing skills these days. If I play geniuses Paul and Jess, it will certainly curb any ego I have associated with the game.

On that note, I will press publish, close my laptop, and start pondering just how I will sign my new record, Gia Mora Sings Charlie Barnett, releasing on July 10…

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