Monday, April 10, 2017

It's Monday, April 10th! What Are You Reading?: Been a While Edition!

Hosted by The Book Date!

I know time flies, but really? Looking back, I haven’t accounted for my reading since the beginning of March. 


I’ve been on vacation, which you’d think would translate into multiple books finished. Nope. 

I experienced a reading slump. First in a while. 

I wasted precious time I should have spent reading. Can’t get it back so onward…

What have I finished reading?

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham. I really haven’t enjoyed a Grisham book since his first five and refused to read any since. Until now. This was a fun and carefree listen. I made excuses to wear my earbuds or drive in the car (which I don’t often do…drive, not make excuses). Yay!

The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes. I am a Barnes fan through and through from years back when I read The Sense of an Ending. I LOVED that book (the movie was pretty good and true to the story, by the way)! This was not that. The feeling I got from my first Barnes experience has been elusive. I will not give up on him! I suppose part of the problem was the character names. Russian, and they sounded too similar with just a few consonants or vowels rearranged to form a new name. It caused me to do a lot of unnecessary reviewing. [Did you read Memories of My Melancholy Whores with all the similar Latino names? While I liked that book very much, the character names lead to some confusion here too.] While the subject matter, Russian composers of classical music in the early 1900’s, was somewhat fascinating, these 180 pages just took too long to read. ACK!

What am I currently reading?

I love absolutely everything about what I am currently reading!!! It feels so good and right. I feel at peace and one with myself and my books!

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (of Rules of Civility notoriety and a book I adored). Don’t you just love when a book hooks you from the very first words? [rhetorical question because who doesn’t?] I am one hundred pages in and shirking the days’ responsibilities just to pick it up. It goes everywhere I do.

“When, in 1922, the thirty-year-old Count is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by the Bolshevik tribunal, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.” If he leaves, he will be shot. As his world narrows, he begins forging relationships with others living and working in the hotel while Russian history is being made outside his door. 

Tremendous so far, the writing and storytelling are fabulous!

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato. Loving this book! The author is doing an outstanding job narrating his story. It’s a big book, in theme and size. Check it out on Goodreads for a quick description of it. It's complex. Talk about making excuses to drive! 

I am in the sweet spot right now. If heaven meant books, I’m Cloud Nine.

What will I read next?

A Gentleman in Moscow is for Book Club #2. This time Book Club #1 meets after BC#2, so I have about a week between them to read Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (I loved LaRose). From what I understand, Love Medicine is an experience akin to Olive Kitteridge in that characters thread through separate short stories only in Erdrich style.

But I really need to make some headway on Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett because I have a date with him during the Chicago Humanities Festival on April 30th. 

That’s me! What about you? Tell me what you are reading! I love recommendations!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Froth and Bubble

Life is mostly froth and
bubble. Two things stand 
like stone. Kindness in
another’s trouble.
Courage in your own.

Adam Lindsay Gordon

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain for embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart: yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.”

The Book of Ecclesiastes 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Too Little, Too Late: 100 Word Alternate Submission for "No Means O"

So I wrote this one first, but it never really came together to my liking. I decided to throw it out. But wait! Why not show it too you instead? I do this all the time. Write a few pieces for a prompt, chill on them for a while hoping for additional inspiration or a better feeling about one or the others. Do you do this?


His proposal had a pleasing pitch, but aborting a previously set date for a better offer left her kicking herself. Her mother’s old rules.

Dreaming of possibilities post-refusal, she left a letter to her buddy from across the hall overflowing with regret though almost missing what peeked from his doormat. 

A missive? Yes, disguised as a paper football like guys shot across desks during school.

Dare she?

A teacher, thus the childish origami. Syrupy words. Details of a supposedly impromptu kiss were daggers. 

Today, she was a voyeur, the outsider, and too late.

How to refold perfectly? Quick, QUICK!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Time is Stingy: 100 Word Challenge

I made a huge mistake the last time we were together. It was failing to appreciate it for what it was; the last time we would ever see each other.

I had a strategy for it, too. To trace your brows, lashes, lips, jaw with my thumbs all the way to your earlobes completely memorizing your face. Slowly. Feature by feature.

I suppose part of me realized it could be that day. Like the shared molecules that previously made up "us" vaporized before our view, I felt it. You?

Time refuses to give that back. It moves forward. Without us.


This week, Tara at Thin Spiral Notebook charged us to write a piece about whatever we desired. The caveat? She refused to allow the letter "N" . Yeah, crazy hard! You try it. Go, go!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Big Little Lies on HBO, Are You Watching?

Are you watching “Big Little Lies” on HBO?

While I’m not a huge fan, I’ve read two novels by Liane Moriarty previously (What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret), but not this one. I’m glad I didn’t so that the finale this Sunday will be somewhat of a surprise for me.

I have a strong feeling for what will happen and who is murdered, but I’ve been wrong before! We shall see. It’s pretty safe to say I won’t be reading the book now, and I am halfway tempted to search for spoilers as to how this story ends. Don’t do it, Gina! Just wait three more days, for goodness sakes!

There are a couple themes that consistently run through this. Marriage, while seemingly perfect, is hard and hardly perfect even for the most happily married people because, DUH!, nothing is. We all make mistakes. Big ones and little ones. We are all selfish at times. Judgement of others plain old sucks, and we can only worry about what those important to us think of us, not anyone who really doesn’t matter because that’s not our business. We need to keep our own houses in order. Kids make marriage an even bigger challenge. There’s more.

For some reason in the last episode, this conversation resonated with me:

“We don’t talk about it because that would make it harder to pretend. Sometime that’s the essence of a happy marriage, isn’t it? The ability to pretend.”


“In every marriage there is pretending. Even the best ones. I don’t have to pretend to love you, and you don’t have to pretend to love me, but what I DO like to pretend, as do you, is that I’m all that.”

I’m thinking of all the ways I pretend in order for life to flow smoothly or to feel happier or to avoid certain issues. Do you sometimes pretend, too?

What do you think of the whole concept of pretending and/or Big Little Lies in general (book or movie)?

[Also, I read somewhere that Keith Urban was upset and did not like the severe bruising his wife, Nicole Kidman, experienced during filming. She, and her character, took a lot of physical punishment, sexually and abusively. This storyline was incredibly sad, horrific and hit far too close to home, as I know someone who was in a similar relationship and secretly moved out while her husband was away on business like the show implies Celeste will do. I helped her fill the moving truck, rearrange furniture so nothing would look amiss when he entered the house, if he didn't look too closely, but he is the type of man who would notice every possession missing. Papers were served a few hours after we left as he walked up their driveway, suitcase in hand. The first thing he asked was, "Where's my Bronco (a car)?" That night, we slept on the bedroom floor, a knife beside each of us, because the sparse amount of furniture she took from their Malibu mansion wouldn't arrive until the following morning. I've only since been that scared one time and that was last November. Oh, we also took one of the dogs. That next day, we set up her hideaway. She was safe and divorced shortly thereafter (after a bit of a struggle settling affairs, of course. He is a lawyer.)]

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?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Tell Me How to Feel and I Will: 100 Word Challenge

I’m lost, biding
the switch flip telling 
me to feel

Recognizable like my 
lips brushing yours 
breathing down my
neck hair raising, like 
salty rivulets as
your sweat dripping
between my breast

Or tempered glass 
withholding desiring
to see more
clearly more you more

Pulled hair
bitten lips filthy
dirt under our nails

And secrets buried
deep dark eyes
for whose or
those who were keen
or know

tricks or truths
map me
a forest for my
teeth to chew
echoing rushes, you
feel my pulse.

What are the contents 
of another’s words?


In cleaning out the content's of my phone's notepad, I found a few poems I wrote many moons ago. This one seemed an all right fit, despite the need to edit out fifty words, for Thin Spiral Notebook's 100-word prompt. The word is "telling" to be used or implied.

Give it a whirl. It is a blast!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Best Place on Earth: 100-Word Challenge

Bora Bora
This particular game goes, “If money were no object, where would you go?” It’s pipe dreams, that’s all.

A stilted hut on Bora Bora. An apartment in Florence. Diving the Great Barrier Reef. Sensation overload in Marrakesh. Sailing the Greek Islands. Patagonia!

On our well worn couch with a fire freshly stoked, I feel his breath on my neck as he whispers. Desiring.

I wear him like his softest tee shirt. Safe, cozy, loved. It can’t be bottled. No amount of money in the world can buy it. 

This home. This peace. This feeling.

We’re the best place on earth.


Squeezing in a 100-word challenge right under the wire! Check out the writers at Thin Spiral Notebook where this week's word is "Money". I firmly believe I have to practice often for writing to come naturally again. I'm trying!

My Email Has Been Hacked!

My personal one, not the blog's. At least it appears that way because weird things are happening. Old emails, from years ago, were sent out unbeknownst to me. Then I got over one hundred Mailer-Daemon mail failure messages:

Sorry, we were unable to deliver your message to the following address.

<email address here>:
Error code 475: Suspicious activity was detected on your account

If you have received any looking like spam or old and unexpected content from my personal email address (you know if you have it), I didn't send it. I am so frustrated trying to figure it out. Boy, I hate this.

Monday, January 30, 2017

It's Monday, January 30th (Can You Believe It?)! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by The Book Date

Sometimes life gets in the way and severely impacts your discretionary reading time like this past weekend. You, too? No, it’s fine and all good. Important to choose people over books, yes?

What did I finish?

Not a heck of a lot!

Not sure why it took me so long to read its 132 pages. It’s really a one sitting book. Mothering Sunday is the day servants are “allowed” off to visit their families. In this book, Jane, who is a servant for a neighboring estate, has a long-term affair with Paul, the upper-class dude next door who is getting married in two week’s time to a lady in his socio-economic circle and moving to London. It’s about love, lust, loss, class structure, finding oneself, moving on and letting go. I liked it very much and would definitely like to read more from Swift.

What am I currently reading?

This deserves a post of its own, but I have successfully convinced both of my book clubs to read the same book, or one to read a book I’ve already read, four out of the last five times. They usually meet within a week or two of each other. If I had to read separate books, one for each, it would leave me with precious little time to devour something of my very own choosing. Don’t tell them.

I’ve had a copy of this book for months. Both clubs were looking for an “it” pick (a new release everyone is reading, talking about and loving) that contains humor and some crazy. I thought this one would serve multiple (read selfish) purposes.

Within the last year, I’ve been trying to discover a few books from small press publishers. I can’t even remember where or how I came across this book. It’s pretty insane. It is extremely raw, not for the easily offended or faint of heart. The language and subject matter are pretty rough. It’s about addiction and relationships. I am liking it the more time I devote. I’m about halfway and finding myself mentally planning when I can squeeze in a few pages into a busy day. That’s a good sign. I should finish today or tomorrow, so I’ll give my complete assessment next week!

Kan is also the author of The Vegetarian. I chose to take on Human Acts first and I am listening to the audio version. I am about one third of the way through and on the second of what I assume will be many more narrators. It is already so, so dark. It’s going to break my heart, I just know it. Is cruelty part of being human? I think this book with drive us to ask this and many other things.

What am I going to read next?

On February 14th, I am going to be first in line somewhere to buy: 

the long awaited work of fiction by George Saunders!!! You see, I have a date with him on March 2nd, and I would like to discuss it from an intelligent and intimate perspective.

I can’t wait to find out what his favorite word is! (I ask every author if they would include it with their signature. Haven’t yet met one who wouldn’t.)

What are you all reading???