Springfield Last Day

Springfield Last Day


Here I am at Gailey’s Breakfast Cafe, waiting for food for forty minutes now. Am I complaining, yeah, I guess so.

The waiter just brought over my check, and I haven’t seen a whiff of my food yet. That’s a first for me. I was a bit shocked and said, “But I haven’t gotten my food yet!” Not quite a freak-out moment, but close. Really close.

I just wanted hash browns (why is that two words?) and scrambled eggs, thinking that would be a quick breakfast. It wasn’t.

Okay, enough about that. Let’s talk about the cool stuff.

More Art

Today is the last day of my CELTA training. It’s been brutal as my cohort will attest to, but also rewarding. I have learned so much about teaching in a different and new way. It feels kind of like the Nebraska Writing Project in the way I have transformed some of my methods based on new learning.



Voldemort Daiquiri

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to go out and experience more of the city given a tour by a native named Karissa. I met Karissa at the Tennessee Williams Festival a couple of years ago, and, by the way, she’s not only a client, but she runs the whole thing. We met in the hotel Vandivort (I can’t stop calling it Voldemort) for a couple of drinks. The hotel is just amazing. One interesting kind of snobby thing I’ve noticed is that there are some places that are so cool, they could exist in any of the great cities of the world and be just fine. La Buvette in Omaha’s Old Market is one of them, and the Vandivort is another.


In the Window of Vandivort

We lucked out as it was Wednesday happy hour! I had some interesting cocktails (names forgotten) but one had pineapple in it. This is when I learned of Karissa’s allergy to pineapple from her time working at a pineapple ice cream stand in her younger and more vulnerable years (this will be important later, I promise!). A local musician started playing Beatles songs after chatting with Karissa for a bit. The story is worth repeating.



Cottonmouth King

Karissa is in the process of building a house in the woods outside of Springfield. She went home the other day to a strange, musty smell. She searched the basement for the source, and much to her surprise, there was a cottonmouth snake waiting. Angry and alone. She called a friendly neighborhood snake killer who came and jumped on it. Crisis averted.



Another place in the Vandivort

So Karissa knew this musician who knew another guy from Springfield that I met in New Orleans. Small world. We sat in four different places in the hotel, and I tried the cashew chicken because it was invented in Springfield. Little did I know that Karissa’s other life is the director of ESL summer camps all over the country. She had just flown in from New York and was leaving for California the next day to “put out fires.” She was very supportive of both my CELTA training and my overseas adventure.



Bass Pro Rocks!

She wanted to show me a bit of Springfield, so we went to the famous Bass Pro Shop, established in 1972 (same year as I), where we met her son, brother, niece, nephew and father. It is a pretty amazing establishment, and this is their flagship store. I guess it would be equivalent to going to Cabela’s in Sydney, but more big.


I told her that when I was a kid, I used to get the catalog, and I always imagined that the main store was in Canada. I never thought it was like a real place people could go. It is just enormous with real-live alligators, turtles, fish in aquariums and this huge outdoor display that makes one feel as if he is in Colorado or Montana. We visited the gun museum that had an actual musket from 1580 that seemed to be in suspiciously amazing shape. It was incredible.


Teddy Roosevelt

At the Teddy Roosevelt display, where the former President resides behind a glass case dressed in his best outdoorsy gear, a little kid and his dad showed up. The kid, out of nowhere, just burst out, “Hey there little man! Come outta that cage so I can punch you in your face!” We were in awe.


Then we went to the restaurant inside of Bass Pro (just us two at this point, the rest of the fam went home). The restaurant is called “Hemingway’s” and it is, indeed, an homage to the legendary author whom Karissa kept referring to as “Papa.” It was nice to end up there because I told Karissa that I was going to Latvia to write, and I was planning on packing up all my old journals. She told me that Hemingway’s wife lost all his journals on a train, and he never forgave her for that. Lesson learned.

Finally, Karissa asked me what time the sun set. She had the perfect place planned to see it. We headed to another bar called Barley, Wheat and Rye. It was on the rooftop of a building somewhere in Springfield, and when we walked in, I remarked how incredible it looked with wood paneling and leather sofas. The waitress said, “Yup, decorated by Ron Swanson.” That’s a Parks and Rec. joke, if you didn’t know… which is cool because I got it. I just started binge watching a few weeks ago! Fate. I tell you. Fate.

Springfield Sunset

So we sat on the patio, watched the sunset and talked of philosophy, the world’s problems and all of our issues and anxieties. It was a nice time. The waitress was wonderful, and had a bit of Leslie Knope in her. She gave me the new term “Starter Marriage” in reference to her 3-year millennial marriage.




Pineapple Whip

As a CELTA student, I had to be responsible, so after the sun went down, it was time to get home to prepare for the next day. But, on the way back, Karissa saw a pineapple ice cream stand… “Pineapple Whip.” She turned around instantly and took me there. Incredible. Full circle. There is so much love in this universe, and much of it has been bestowed upon me in the past few years.

Thank you Pineapple God!

So in the process of seeing Springfield, and learning more about the city, the Farmer’s market and history, I also made another incredibly cool new friend.

I almost died the next day trying to get ready for class, but that which doesn’t kill us makes us saltier.






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