Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yeah Write Micro-stories: Weekend Warriors

Tipping his Stetson to a final sunset, Doc turned Betty towards Lost Valley to pack.

He slapped a tip envelope on the desk.
“Gotta fix some teeth so I can return.” [Wink]

Shouldering his duffel, he walked out to the waiting taxi.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Live in Chicago

And I'm sorry it is taking me time to process what's going on. I'm short on details, but that is not it. I guess I am mortified by the actions of human beings. We suck. It is old news, but Chicago is trying to understand something tonight. I'm just not sure how successfully we will handle it, and I'm more than sad about it. Scared, too. Sorry.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I Fell on the Ice Yesterday While Biking

I can’t seem to get off the couch today for more than a minute or two. Actually, the time it takes to go potty. Too much information? Sorry. Hey, at least you’re here. Therefore, I have something to admit.

I fell on a DIVVY bike yesterday. (If you don't know, DIVVYs are those blue bikes you see in cities that you rent to bike from destination to destination.)

In front of a lot of people.

How? Let me explain.

So we had our first winter storm in Chicago. It snowed/slushed/rained on Saturday. It was a frozen tundra by Sunday afternoon, and the perfect time, with wind chill in the teens, to catch a football game with a bunch of college boys. (Remember, we are Bears fans. It’s what we do. We lose, it is also what we do. Thanks, Jay. No wonder everyone drinks a lot of beer.)

After four quarters and a miserable loss, my face was almost as frozen as my toes. Getting home quickly seemed like the right idea. I told the twenty-somethings we were going to gut it out and go. So I’m pretty sure the bike rental was my idea.

It was crowded on museum campus with everyone leaving the game as the six of us got biked up. As soon I as made my first turn, I slid. First my left knee, then hip, then shoulder bounced off the ice glazed concrete. Did I mention it was crowded? 

I got up as quickly as it happened. 

“I’m FINE!” 

Biking is not easy in a puffy, long, down coat and snow boots. Scarves get tangled in handle bars. Gloved hands can’t shift gears. Whose bright idea was this anyway?

As insensitive as this sounds, I did find some joy and comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one to fall. One of the boys did, too. He was probably more embarrassed than I was.

So here I lay bruised and battered. Hungry, too, with no energy to find sustenance. I’m feeling pretty pitiful right now.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Four Generations of Pasta Makers

(This post first appeared here three years ago today on my daughter's 22nd birthday. You do the math. (I have a baby who is a quarter century old! Okay, I did it for you. I was a Math major for a while, after all!))

There are a few threads of tradition that weave through four generations of women in my family. A few skipped a generation, like baking for instance, but my Grandma Theresa and my daughter held tightly to each of them.

My great grandmother taught my grandma to make pasta, which everyone in the Italian neighborhood did on Sundays. While my grandma didn’t carry on the tradition in exactly the same way, she shared her talent for pasta making with my mom and me.

As I crawled the floors of a Cicero three flat, Grandma Theresa and her daughter made ravioli for Easter or Christmas and sometimes just because “we had a taste for them”. When I was old enough, my job was the “forker” or sealing those pillow y bundles of delicate deliciousness. Mom was always surprised because grandma never let her in the kitchen to help.

My grandma had the world’s best Italian arms seemingly made for kneading dough. You know the kind... the big, jiggly ones. It wasn’t until I was in high school that grandma determined I had the stamina to partake in the kneading. It seemed like it took hours but in reality was probably only 30 minutes. It was extremely tiring.

As a young adult working and always trying to make ends meet, grandma would call and ask me to take her to the market. I knew what that meant. She was inviting me over to make a pasta feast for two. We always made cavatelli, meatballs, and a big salad. Dessert was inevitably orange or raspberry Jello and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I took leftovers in Tupperware home to my apartment which would last me days.

Twenty-two years ago today, another woman came into our world and it wasn’t too long before my daughter crawled on the floor of her great grandma’s apartment as three older generations kneaded, filled and forked ravioli. Homemade pasta was among the first solid foods my daughter ate.

Grandma Theresa passed away when Amanda was 3 1/2 years old but says she remembers her.

Today, three generations of women continue to make ravioli together several times a year. Not only because “we have a taste for it” but it’s a way to keep the spirit of a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother alive. 

So when my daughter invited her college friends to spend the night at our home yesterday to celebrate her 21st +1 birthday (a day early), she asked if they could make ravioli. She thought it would be fun and said she had a taste for it.

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that someday I’ll be making pasta with my granddaughter (not too soon though, Amanda). And I hope for at least a few years, she’ll crawl on the floor while a great grandmother, grandmother and mother knead, fill and fork ravioli.

Happy birthday darling daughter.

You have grown into an exceptionally beautiful, intelligent, passionate, fun and kind woman of whom I am exceedingly proud.

(Who'd have known she'd be attending this university many years later and making awesome friends)

It’s open grid week over at Yeah Write. Please come over and join us for Thanksgiving week! You won’t be disappointed with anything you read over there, I promise!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Yeah Write Micro-stories: Attrition

To the forwarded reservation confirmation she replied, 

“Me, too. So excited.”

(Note: Exclamation marks missing from my response.)

The rub? A date is a date. Knowing this, she’ll make me explain why I’ve been avoiding her. That’s a tough one.

WWW.Wednesday: What Are You Reading on November 18th?

Yes!!! It’s back!

Most Wednesday do not pass me by without thinking about what I am reading. This is due to the book meme called WWW.Wednesday: What Are You Reading? I have missed it, and played along sometimes purely by myself. Thank you Taking on a World of Words for taking the reins and hosting us voracious readers. 

If you want to join in, go HERE and answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?

I am reading All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. It is fantastic. It is sad and heartbreaking. It is funny. The subject, however, is extremely tender. One sister wants to end her life, while the other is trying to keep her alive. Don’t let this brief description scare you off. It is a special story.

I am listening to A Bollywood Affair by Dev Sonali. I am also not afraid to admit that I love Bollywood movies. Hence my desire to check this book out. It is light, fluffy, fun, but definitely feels formulaic. It is in the romance genre, and if you know me, you know I don’t spend much time there. I probably won’t beyond this, but tune in next week to find out how it was by the end!

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished a book of short stories called Excommunicados by Charles Haverty. I wrote about my feels in a previous post, but it has stuck with me. A Goodreads friend for whom I recommended this book wrote, “Gina, this book is superb so far. Haverty is teaching a master class on how to write a short story.” Um, yes, he is! After writing my last little review of it, I got the nicest note from the author. He said writing is like putting out a message in a bottle and you don’t know if anyone will ever find it. Something like that. I am thrilled to have found this collection. Two enthusiastic thumbs up!!!!!

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn because I had to. Because it’s a Gillian Flynn book. I liked it. It was a 64 page horror story essentially. It is in typical Flynn style. Creepy! Keeps you guessing. Unique. If you’re a Flynn fan, and/or love scary stories, do it! You will finish in about one hour.

What do you think you’ll read next?

It feels like the perfect time to curl up and cry with the not so little tome called A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. You know, with Thanksgiving next week and all. Might take a while to finish, but you’ll be the first to know.

There you have it! What’s up in your reading world these days???

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More Than One Way to Look at Things

I don’t know about you, but I have very little idle time to purely think. It doesn’t drive me to feelings of panic, but I do find some discomfort in it. Like everyone, I sneak deep thought in in-between everything else that is pressing and distracting and occupying my time. At times, I feel cut short. 

That is unless I am underwater, which I routinely am. Aside from recreational diving like when I am at work, I can only really let my mind do what it does best if I am performing a mundane task like cleaning. Don’t know about you, but it’s very rare anymore that I can do anything mindlessly. Where the outside world can't find me. The opportunity to clear the mind and think about nothing, or to ponder a problem. Whatever. 

That’s why I like the early part of my Tuesday mornings. Today. I scrub the inside of a large exhibit tank filled to the brim with pre-historic looking fish (If you watch River Monsters on Discovery Channel, those are the big fish I mean). Really cool, but virtually robotic work. It’s just me, a scrub brush, and some elbow grease for a whole hour. Sometimes I get to catch out a couple of turtles though that’s not the norm but I got to today.
Some mornings I wake up with something already on my mind. Other times, like today, I’ve barely had enough coffee to think straight before I am submerged.

Today was a halfsy. Stuff on my mind, and not fully awake enough to string together anything that made sense (Keep in mind I am in the tank around 6:45 a.m., which is about 40 minutes from the time my alarm goes off.). The water was particularly cold, and I felt a little discombobulated. 

I worked my way up, down and across the pitted exhibit wall covered with a moderate amount of algae due to the lack of strong sunlight at this time of year. My technique is to move along in one direction then cross back over the same area from the opposite side. That way I can see everything from a different angle, in a different light, and notice what I’ve missed because I always miss something.

Then the lightbulb went off (No, it really did.)

This way of looking at something as routine as my Tuesday morning cleaning project from several, or at least two, different angles has application outside of scrubbing an exhibit tank!

I truly comprehend there are two sides to every story. Differing perspectives. I notice the gray. But, being human, I am continually a work-in-progress.