Thirty Things I Love Right Now

by mark neely

1. Summer!

2. A job that gives me some extra time to read during summer.

3. Which reminds me of being a kid, going to the Champaign public library every week and checking out a load of books on my laminated green library card.

4. Mario Puzo said, “my mother regarded my library card with the same horror that present-day mothers look at their son’s heroin needles.”

5. I usually read a “big book” in the summer—Middlemarch, War and Peace, Infinite Jest, etc.

6. This summer I have a lot of shorter books I want to read, so I’m skipping the big book pledge.

7. Reading nonfiction and doing some work on a nonfiction project.

8. David Foster Wallace’s essays (the McCain essay and the Lobster essay and even the American Usage essay, though lord that’s a lot of words about dictionaries).

9. Anything he writes about tennis.

10. Wallace on tennis reminds me to write about the things I love.

11. Serena Williams, who won her second French Open, and 16th Grand Slam, leaving her just two titles away from tying Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

12. Wallace never wrote his Serena Williams essay. But I imagine it sometimes.

13. Virginia Woolf’s essays, particularly “Street Haunting,” which I read for the first time a few days ago.

14. Reading something this amazing for the first time.

15. “No one perhaps has ever felt passionately towards a lead pencil. But there are circumstances in which it can become supremely desirable to possess one…”

16. Disc golf.

17. A long putt catching in the chains.

18. This 30 Things is theoretically nonfiction.

19. The Replacements reunion!

20. The sneaking suspicion this won’t actually happen.

21. Then I could still say I saw the last ‘Mats show, on the Fourth of July in Grant Park in 1991.

22. Croutons. Get a loaf of bread and some tasty olive oil and make them yourself. You’ll thank me.

23. The Spurs—a small market squad built on teamwork, lack of drama, a core of veterans mentoring the young and talented.

24. The Heat—a large market team, a ruthless hit-squad built from poaching talent from around the league. More drama than the Broadway Les Miserables.

25. Cue narrative.

26. The attack essay. To be honest I haven’t read this yet—I’m saving it for an upcoming airplane trip. I’m sure it will piss me off, but it’s good to get pissed off about art sometimes. Somewhat surprised to see any long-form writing about poetry in a mainstream magazine.

27. Using three exclamation points in this post, the number someone said a writer should use in his or her lifetime.

28. Writing rules!

29. Breaking writing rules, as in the adverbs of Frank O’Hara.

30. I’m doing an experiment where I stay entirely offline for the month of July. I’ll tell you about it when I get back.