Thursday, March 16, 2017

When I Should Be Doing Something Else

I do not have ducks.

I do not have a row.

   I have squirrels………

 And they’re at a rave.

Is this you, too? Ever feel this way, too? At least some of the time?

Or how about this one:

“I tried to be normal once. Weirdest two minutes of my life.”


“In my defense, I was left unsupervised.”


“Some people 

never go crazy.

What truly horrible

lives they must lead.”

Charles Bukowski

(Kidding, kind of...)

About people and books:

“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”

Lemony Snicket


“Reading a good book in silence

is like eating chocolate for the

rest of you life and never

getting fat.”

Becca Fitzpatrick

[Hear, Hear!]

So this is stuff I do when I am procrastinating (AKA what I am doing when I should be doing something else.).  And I read.

Sorry, not sorry.

What do you do when you should be doing something else?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Proper Vacation Packing = Enough Books! You, Too?

I wouldn’t say I panic or anything, but forefront in my mind as I pack for an extended vacation are the books that will be coming along. The weird thing (about me) is that, oftentimes, I am going somewhere where everything is available for purchase should I forget something. Books are available from shared libraries and book stores. 

But still. I think about it. Overly think because "What if???". And for my vacation packing to feel complete, be complete, and for my vacation fulfillment to be optimized, be fulfilling, I need to bring enough books. And like clothes, I want options.

That said, I am leaving on a ten day, coast-to-coast, road trip to visit some girlfriends in Florida. That’s a long time, and I want to be prepared so that requires enough books. 

Since I am leaving this Friday, I just now pulled the books I am going to bring. May add a few others, but here’s the list:

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes (I loved, loved, loved The Sense of an Ending. I really liked The Levels of Life. I feel confident about this one.)

The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras (The Lover was wonderful. Plus who doesn’t want a spicy book to read alone in bed while visiting girlfriends? Is that too ewww? Whatever. It made the cut.)

Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick (Women, life, memories, a potential classic)

What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi (Started this at least a year back and want to finish it after setting it down one and a half stories in. Short stories about keys. To a heart. To a house. To a secret. Yes!)

Enigma Variations by Andre Aciman (I told you about my fascination with small press publications. This is one. It is told in five vignettes/stories, all which take unexpected turns. It had me at "Sexuality is not black and white.".)

That’s it so far. Any suggestions? I’ll have some “alone” time so searching out an unusual book shop is definitely not out of the question. Wait! Do you know any in the Jupiter, Fort Meyers, or Naples areas?

Monday, March 6, 2017

It's Monday, March 6th! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by The Book Date

I saw George Saunders last week! I saw George Saunders last week! I saw George Saunders last week! 

Super cool. Him, not me! Dug the ponytail too, George!

As I wrote somewhere, he’s just like you and me except he’s a genius and, at least and sadly, I am not.

He’s intensely relatable, and I love a Chicagoan. Even a South Sider, who, of course, did not even mention the Cubs’ World Series win as only a South Sider would not!

Anyway, he was scared, nervous and tentative to write a long work of fiction just like any of us would be or maybe more so. He stewed and marinated on this piece since his twenties. Actually, he described a manuscript he wrote back then loosely based on a wedding he and his wife attended on a beach in Mexico. It was titled La Boda de Eduardo (Edward’s Wedding). So truly awful that after he gave it to his loving and supportive wife to read and spied on her a few minutes later when she was on page six, he found her face in her hands leaving him mortified. No wonder he never ventured into this realm until now. Of course, he has license to do whatever he wants at this point and Lincoln in the Bardo was written in the three months following the release of the amazing Tenth of December as an experiment to see if it would/could amount to anything. Methinks he will never doubt himself again, but I know nothing.

Back to the book event. The reading was performed by six people including George so each ghost’s part was read by a different person as well as the literary references and a narrator. It was perfect and a passage I particularly was drawn to. So poignant.

Unsolicited, Saunders answered a question I had regarding my discomfort with format especially as it related to the ghostly dialog. When a ghost is “speaking”, whose voice is indicated post-colloquy. After a while, I adjusted and let the prose flow over me without obsessing over who was speaking at all times. He did this on purpose, by the way. “Ghosts are confusing, aren’t they?” Says he.

When it was my turn at the table, he promptly stuck out his hand, “Hi, I’m George!!!” Me, “Of course, you are! I’m Gina.”

He inscribed his favorite word of the moment, “Disenthrall”, in my copy because I asked him to. Then he recited in passage with fist raised high, “We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” (A quote from an address by Lincoln).

I told him my twenty-three year old son played Lincoln in third grade, to which he replied, “That must have been so cute.” Then pointed out that he signed my son’s copy, “To Matthew, aka Lincoln”

Super cool!

But you came here to see what I am reading, so here goes!

What have I recently finished?

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

What am I currently reading?

Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick; Enigma Variations by Andre Aciman; You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein (writer for the amazing Amy Schumer) via audiobook.

What’s coming up?

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett because he is coming to Chicago Humanities Festival April 30th; The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes; Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich, which is my new book club pick for April.

Good stuff!!! What’s going on in your reading world?

Monday, February 27, 2017

I Really Don't Know Clouds, At All.

Sara Bareilles sang the most amazing cover of one of my all-time favorite songs. She sang it patiently and slowly.

First here’s Joni, where I first fell in love with it:

Here is Sara’s version  from last night. Listen if you dare. I cried. 

Rows and flows of angel hair
and ice cream castles in the air
and feather canyons everywhere,
I've looked at cloud that way
but now they only block the sun, 
they rain and snow on everyone
so many things I would have done
but clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
it's cloud illusions I recall,
I really don't know clouds at all.

Moons and junes and ferris wheels, 
the dizzy dancing way you feel
as every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way
but now it's just another show,
you leave 'em laughing when you go
and if you care, don't let them know,
don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,
from give and take, and still somehow
it's love's illusions I recall,
I really don't know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud
to say "I love you" right out loud,
dreams and schemes and circus crowds,
I've looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange,
they shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Well, something's lost but something's gained
in living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
from win and lose, and still somehow
it's life's illusions I recall,

I really don't know life at all.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Programming Break Stream of Consciousness

It’s been an exceedingly long time since I have had a weekend evening to myself. Tonight’s the night.

I just paused the last episode of “This is Us”, which I missed due to underwater vacationing, (Do you watch it, too? I cry absolutely every episode thinking, “These people really love each other.”), so I could yell this from the mountaintop.


[When you are an empty-nester, you have precious little time away from your spouse, and particularly on the weekend. It’s all good and fine. I miss him when he’s gone. But occasionally, just sometimes, you need a reprieve from the Love Train, control of the remote, and a break from male-oriented or compromised entertainment choices. ] 

Here’s what I intend to do:

  1. Push “Play” to restart “This is Us”. I am about halfway through.
  2. Pour a glass of wine.
  3. Watch the first two episodes of “Girls”. It’s the final season!
  4. Order a sausage and onion topped with lightly dressed arugula pizza.
  5. Pour another glass of wine.
  6. Eat half a pizza.
  7. Watch the first two episodes of “Big Little Lies”. Is it good? I am intrigued by the cast and it is one Liane Moriarty book I have not read.
  8. Walk the dog.
  9. Bedtime routine.
  10. Snuggle up in bed with Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I am meeting him next Thursday and I really want to have it finished by then.
  11. Lights out. Should be after midnight by then.
Yes, I understand this all sounds like a snoozefest. I am boring. At least some of the time. Did you not know this?

Have a wonderful Friday night however you are spending it!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Stream of Consciousness and the Disasters of Doing Laundry

Some holidays, Hallmark or otherwise, have a unique vibe year after year. 

Take Valentine’s Day. 

Some years I remember longing, passion, young love. Others have been laden with tantrums as school-aged children threw fits over classroom card options at the drug store. And candy.

Some were wine soaked and dripping chocolate fondue. Others were met with exhausted bodies, minds and spirits longing, this time, for bed. Just bed. No monkey business.

Most have been smooth, easy, not terribly spicy, exciting or dramatic. Peaceful and calm. And monkey stuff.


I didn’t have to be to the aquarium until 8:00 a.m. today, so I planned to sleep an extra hour after staying up late last night because I could!

In my life, best made plans are usually meant with some type of resistance. And this Valentine’s Day morning was no exception because I was woken before 6:00 a.m. by what I thought sounded like a siren. In actuality, it was my better half vacuuming in the kitchen with my, in very close proximity, bedroom door wide open. 

Ummmm. That’s not very considerate, is it? Especially on the big V-Day. Or any other day!

I stumbled into the room all blurry-eyed, grumpy and What-the-Heck! 

He was vacuuming out the inside of the washer. Huh?

Okay, really, WHAT-THE-HECK! NOW?!?!?

He didn’t have his usual, chipper, happy face on.

I guess somehow there was a hardback book washed along with (his) clothes. 

I can confess to loading the washer with my his dirty clothes last night, but I did not actually start it. Don’t you think we share equal responsibility for the mess?

And a mess it was.

A 300 page hardcover book virtually disintegrates when it’s washed. Go figure. Its bits and pieces get into each and every crack and crevasse of both the washer and the dryer. Because, of course, you switch that shit over after the wash cycle even when you find a book in it? I guess you do...

Obviously, I didn’t put the book in there on purpose. For shame! But I was responsible and any amount of turning things around was not going to work.  My fault.

So the morning of this special day, at least here, did not start all light, love, and happiness. It’s still early though and I did get a smooch before he walked out the door. He gets over things extremely fast, and there's only one way to go and that's up!

Now I just need to tell him I ruined one of his favorite shirts. Maybe I'll wait until tomorrow. Maybe it will just disappear into thin air.

Monday, February 13, 2017

It's Monday, February 13th! What Are You Reading? Quick, Quick!!!

Hosted by The Book Date.

I say “Quick, Quick” because I would rather tell you about my experience in a Mayan sweat lodge while it is fresh in my memory. Though first I need to write it down.

What have I recently finished since we last discussed?

Nothing. I was on vacation, but not on the type of vacation that made reading easily prioritized. Actually, most days/nights, I did not have the mental or physical capacity for it.

What am I currently reading?

The same stuff as last time though I am a bit further along.

About halfway through and it continues to engage. It is funny, too. I now know what "The Nix" is! Love when the meaning of a title is illuminated. I also love the cover art on this one, too. It makes perfect sense for the story. This book is really good and I fully understand the "buzz" surrounding it though I wish I had more time to devote to it right now.

I am a Mary Oliver fan through and through. I just love her. This collection returns to what I think Oliver writes about best, her observations of nature and her surroundings.

Thirst is exactly what my desiccated lips and mind need right this very minute. I have taken to reading each poem once internally then out loud for the second time just to see if the experience is different. Feels different. It does and I will continue on this way. Will be finished today, sadly.

Almost finished and almost wish I was not listening to this. It is a bit confusing as there are so many names that sound similar, and the timing goes forward and back. Maybe it’s me. Still, it is compelling and sad and heartbreaking. Why are we so cruel to one another?

What will I read next?

Of COURSE! I have pre-ordered my copy for his event on March 2nd, and it is available for pickup TOMORROW!!! WOO HOO! Can’t wait. I am sure I will finish it before I come back for “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?” next time. Wait. I’ll be out of town. Trust me, it will be finished!

Okay, how about you? Any recommendations or books you think I should read?