Me, A Name I Call Myself

“What’s your word?” Giulio asks Liz in the book Eat, Pray, Love.

They’ve been talking about words associated with cities…

Giulio said, “Maybe you and Rome just have different words.”

“What do you mean?”

…“Don’t you know that the secret to understanding a city and its people is to learn – what is the word of the street?”

Then he went on to explain…that every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there….

“What’s Rome’s word?” I asked.

“SEX,” he announced.

…Even over at the Vatican?”


“… Their word is POWER.”


“You’d think it would be FAITH.”


“It’s POWER,” he repeated. “Trust me…”

…Giulio asked, “What’s the word in New York City?”

“…I think it’s ACHIEVE.”

…“What was the word in your family when you were growing up?”

That one was difficult. I was trying to think of a single word that somehow combines both FRUGAL and IRREVERENT. But Giulio was already on to the next and most obvious question: “What’s your word?”

What’s your word?

It takes Liz the rest of the book to figure out her word. Which makes sense—the book is about a great transition. It’s impossible to pick one definition smack dab in the middle of a great transition—I know.

Last week, I had a chance to watch the movie Eat, Pray, Love which, as I explained to a friend: always always makes me want to make (more) big giant life changes. Cut myself open and breathe deeply changes. I don’t know how else to explain it, except that I feel incredibly inspired and simultaneously suffocated when I watch that movie or read the book.

Inspired and suffocated because like Liz, I continue to transition from there to here, from here to somewhere new. And all of this in-between stuff is…in between.

All of these thoughts—almost verbatim—flooded my brain cells as I wandered a local arts and crafts expo with a friend last night.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, would call this monkey-mind—these “thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl.”

It was in this very condition—pregnant with howling thoughts and words—that I found myself standing in front of the colorful and creative display of Nicola and The Newfoundlander. Their locally-designed, hand-crafted, green art, wooden creations were stunning. What caught my attention—in addition to the frames and clocks and (serendipitous!) images of the Brooklyn Bridge—was the display of magnets and “reclaimed words.”

Artist Brendan Smith enthusiastically explained how he and his artist partner Nicola Armster had scoured old dictionaries to find words no longer in everyday use to pair with their reclaimed wood from Brooklyn water towers and Coney Island boardwalks. The result? A delightful assortment of words and woods that begs the question: What is your word?

Might I be a Flaneur or a Vicambulist?

Surely I am Maieutic, but I very rarely Ploiter.

I thought for sure my friend was Fey, but she was feeling more Mungo.

Yet none of these seemed accurate enough for me until…

METANOIA: to change one’s life or mind, a transformative change of heart; especially: a spiritual conversion, an awakening.

Word up!

(So, what’s YOUR word?)

• • •

• If you’re local, there are two days left at the Guilford Art Center Craft Expo. Go Now!

• Find YOUR word and much more at Nicola and The Newfoundlander’s website. Very cool people!

• If you have not done so, do read Eat, Pray, Love. Many many great words to be found! Click here to buy the book now.

2 thoughts on “Me, A Name I Call Myself

  1. nice close-up of your word – and yes, i am mungo: one who finds beautiful things in trash!

    nice thoughts about finding a word – or being in search of a word… thanks!

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