Monday, October 31, 2016

It's Monday! What Are YOU Reading?: Halloween!

[Blogger’s Note: This should probably be, “It’s Autumn! What Are You Reading?”; it’s been so long since I have set down a I am reading post. I’ll play along like I am supposed to then add some additional books I’ve read at the end just in case you make it that far! If you wanted further detail, I am writing this while making my world famous hot wings for a Bears tailgate tonight. Terrifying, I know. Not because it’s Halloween or has anything to do with the wings. It has everything to do with how horrible the Bears are this season (and all seasons where J. Cutler is involved). What can I say? Chicago sports fans tend to be long suffering. And I wouldn’t be going if certain family members weren’t requiring it!]

What did I read last week?

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. While it was good as Patchett perennially is, nothing she writes with compare with Bel Canto, for me. Still. It is a worth reading family drama.

Little Birds- Erotica by Anais Nin. I am still fanning myself. This is by far the hottest stuff I have ever laid hands on (in book form. Sorry, had to be sassy.)! This book left me sassy and feeling and a whole lot of other things you’ll only know if you pick up this book or have already read it. If someone writes sex better than Nin, will you please tell me? Uh, now!

Levels of Life by Julian Barnes. A few years ago, I told you The Sense of an Ending was one of my favorite all-time books. I loved it. This one is just so different from that one. I am not sure it is telling a story, or a cohesive one. It is short, has a poetic vibe, and  the writing is lovely as is Barnes’ style. It is worth a look!

What am I currently reading?

Upstream: Essays by Mary Oliver. I first fell in love with her and didn’t even know it during a Millenium Park yoga gathering several years back. The instructor began the class with a meditation on our backs in Savasana. My eyes, which are normally closed, remained open as she recited “Wild Geese” two times through. First slowly, then at a more quick clip. She ended the same way reciting two times. I felt it burn into my soul and ran home to look it up. I didn’t know the name of the poem right then. I used the phrases I could remember. “Wild Geese”. It is in a collections titled Dream Work. Subsquent to that moment, I have read four collections by Oliver. Each one a delicacy that made my heart sing for joy. This is her first work in essay form (methinks). I can’t wait for more time hunkering down with her.

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith. Is Highsmith generally an underrated mystery writer? Maybe I only found her because I finally read The Talented Mr. Ripley this year. And if that one gave you the willys, this one will do the same and then some. I am about halfway into the audiobook version, and it is reminding me that there is nothing like a good, suspenseful, subtle stalker tale! Highsmith rules the creepy stuff!

What am I planning to read next?

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride, and/or The Nix by Nathan Hill. By the way, both of these have awesome cover art! I have The Sellout by Paul Beatty, also the recent Man Booker award winner, downloaded and queued up for when I finish Strangers

Other great books I read this fall are:

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: Beyond outstanding.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan: A fresh and unique writing perspective. Typical McEwan = beautifully written.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney: It was a good, not great, story about a dysfunctional family and inheritance.

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer: This was a fantastic book. Poignant, funny, sassy. As only Schumer can be.

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell: There is no one out there like her. No one compares. I’ve never learned so much U.S. history while enjoying myself as reading her books (this was my third). Ever!

Ripley Under Ground by Patricia Highsmith: Because I just had to know what happened next. And next. And next.

Happy reading! I better not nibble on any more wings otherwise I will severely disappoint those counting on me!

[After sufficient sampling, I can attest they came out as fabulous and tasty as ever. YUM!]

Friday, October 28, 2016

Hey, Hey! Holy Mackerel!!" (Stream of Consciousness Chicago Style)

I live in this city. Chicago, that is. Home to the often frustrated sports fan. It is pure insanity right now. Not sure we have seen the likes of this since…certainly not when the Bears went to the Super Bowl even.  Or The Rolling Stones came to Soldier Field.

This stuff is right here! At least for the next three games. The Ferris wheel has the Cubs logo in its center. The majority of the people seen walking around have on some sort of Cubs gear. There is a vibrancy I have yet to see since maybe the Presidential rally for Obama or maybe ever. Lollapalooza doesn’t hold a candle to this enthusiasm. Out-of-town fans fill every street corner. Traffic is almost at a standstill. 

I live about three blocks from the iconic and original Billy Goat Tavern on Lower Michigan, which is part of the old, drippy, underbelly of Chicago that always looks like nighttime, but the burgers are good. The place was famous before the Blues Brothers stopped in. Fans were taking pictures just now out front. 

I ran an errand past Harry Caray’s old Italian steak joint. Again, people taking pictures of the restaurant’s sign and a Clydesdale horse hanging out on the sidewalk. What does a Clydesdale and the Cubs have in common? Beats me!

I have been a life-long Cubs fan. Those of you who know how old I am can attest to it being a long time. 

When I was growing up, our parents, who did not have a lot of discretionary income, took me and my little brother to one game a season. We seemed to have the same seats along the third base line just behind the Cub’s dugout. We would get there early (more bang for our buck, I’m guessing) to watch batting practice, warmups and, with any luck, inch our way up to the railing to get some autographs on our score sheets we faithfully kept all game (Dad was a stickler for accuracy!). We binged on hot dogs, ice cream and peanuts. And so it went every year.

I lucked out in college by living in the same house as the daughter of one of the team’s VPs. We would travel up from Normal, Illinois at the beginning of April to watch Opening Day at Wrigley under usually freezing and wet conditions. Beer solved that problem.

Last year, we went to five or six games. This year, we had tickets for twelve. It has been a good year for all of us who have been waiting.

It’s a crazy day that will only get crazier. Tomorrow will be worse, better, worse. Every errand has taken me longer, but every person I have encountered is in a festive mood. How awesome is that? 

And that’s just down here. Up north about 2.5 miles, the neighborhood called Wrigleyville will be an entirely different story. It will be truly insane.

Our guys just need to bring their bats tonight.

Holy Cow!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Days of Wine and Roses

There’re songs and poems about stories like ours with a beginning and middle. An end. 

Glasses of wine, friendly chats, exchanges of books and photographs. 

Dark chocolate, writing and Dickinson, you too? 

Uninhibited over-sharing and blurred lines.

What starts off luxuriously slow, simple and simply takes its sweet time turning sad. Then there’s the mess four blind eyes neglect.

Our friendship had a number attached from the first, “I’d like to get to know you from whatever distance you’ll allow.”

We came to know too much. 
Didn’t we, honey?

Things end and tears escape. 
Doors close.


Over at Thin Spiral Notebook, we were given the word "Wine" and 100 words to use it in our creative writing. Thanks for providing an outlet for us, Tara. If you like wine half as much as I love it, please join in the fun! 

(I need to write more, or get out more, or more something.)