Saturday, September 28, 2013

Yeah Write: Another Friday Night in the Park

I’ve been in the park across the street late on a Friday night before with my Lab and a glass of creamy, red wine discreetly hidden in a coffee mug. Sometimes by myself, sometimes not.

It’s big with a mile-long walkway weaving through it. It's "alive” during the day. At night, though, everything comes to a rest. You can hear the breeze blowing through tall, prairie grasses the elementary school children tend and the arcs of pond fountains spraying through floodlit beams.

Last night after my friends left, close to 10:00, we both needed a walk to clear our heads. Grabbing the last of the wine, we headed across.

At the far end of the park, the tennis and basketball courts were bathed in light and little specs were running around. As we got closer, we could discern the figures.

Two sets of daddy/daughters.

My heart leapt as it often does when seeing this combination of parent/child. Something about it warms me from the inside out.

We paused to watch for a while.

The little girl on the far side of the tennis court was 5 or 6 years old. Neon green balls, probably 100 of them, littered the court. Her daddy hit them to her, one after another after another after another. And she returned them with ease and amazing precision for her age. Some sliced directly into the net but most balls closely cleared its top edge for a “winning shot”. They were not speaking, just stroking the balls back and forth.

The young girl standing on the basketball free-throw line was close to 10 years old. She was tall and lanky, all arms and legs. It was obvious she took after her daddy, who was planted directly under the basket. She rapidly rifled off balls, playing with two at a time, almost faster than he could pass them back. They’d break every minute or two for what I understood to be a critiquing of her efforts. She’d just nod and begin again.

It was lovely, at first, being a spectator for their shared time together but it left me feeling unsettled as well. It didn’t seem playful or fun, but regimented, drill-like, pressure-filled, at least to me. It seemed too late at night for this. (Not that my thoughts or opinions on the matter actually…matter.)

Walking away, I heard one daddy ask, “Are you done or do you want more?”

“I want more,” the little tennis phenom replied.

My heart felt a little lighter as I walked home after hearing her reply.


To my fellow “Moonshiners” over at Yeah Write, I apologize in advance for the probability that this weekend’s visits to your posts may not happen in a timely fashion. I need to get on a plane in a few hours. Arriverderci!!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Trifextra: The Pages In-Between

The inception and conclusion are like bookends,

not of our own choosing.

Then there’s the storm in between;

pages filled with complicated poems and harrowing tales

With a love story threading though, hopefully.


"Things do not happen. Things are made to happen." 
John F. Kennedy

33 Words about a famous trio. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Trifecta: The Stench

She woke to the stench of vomit.


A blasting headache, in a mostly dark, only slightly familiar hotel room.

She was sixteen. And a half.

She had on underwear. Hers, but not the same. And a tee shirt that wasn’t.

Her brother was supposed to be in this room too. This was family vacation after all.

Where was he?

Trudging to the bathroom, turning on the light, she winced.

Head hammering from the inside out.

Her hair was damp and messy. Mascara blackened her entire eyes. Dried drool stuck to the corners of her mouth.

Bending over, she dry-heaved violently into the toilet.

She laid her cheek on the cool, white tile of the bathroom floor, and drifted off.

Half dreams. Blurred memories. Rancid recollections.

Jeans wrestled.


Underwear tugged.


Then vomit.


And crying.

The sound of water running.

Complete wetness.

Peaceful blackness.

She awoke, this time, still on the bathroom floor to her brother’s shake. He was saying something about the trouble she was in.

What happened? She asked.

You drank whiskey. He gave it to you. You disappeared. Both of you.

What then? She asked.

He brought me to you. You were like an uncontrollable animal. Your jeans were off.

My underwear? These aren’t the ones.

He told me he tried but got scared. It was mom.

Did he…?

He said he didn’t.

Where is he now?

I beat the crap out of him. He’s gone.

He tried. I remember now.

I know. He admitted it.

It was my first time drinking.

I know. Mom and dad are waiting outside. You better get your shit together.  Expect the worse.

And she got the worst…

She got the grounding, the disappointment, the apology (although years too late) and the memories.

Yeah Write: The Grateful Dead Concert at Solider Field, 1991

The Grateful Dead at Soldier Field, 1991

My husband’s concern for us was tender and sweet. Slightly smothering at times but I felt very much loved and cared for and even more so when I was pregnant.

He is a worrier. Not a risk taker. He is practical.

So asking if we (he, me and baby bump) could accompany some out-of-town friends to a concert that weekend was pushing the envelope for him.

“It’s free fun! And they have kick butt seats,” I added, thinking it would sex up the deal since disposable income didn't exist.

He didn’t buy it. His list of reasons was a mile long for why we shouldn’t put our baby or me at risk in a crowd of 50,000 people.

“What happens if you get bumped or pushed or fell? I don’t like it. At all.”

“You’re right, Honey,” I said, head hung low.

When you’re 8 months, 1 week pregnant, there aren’t a lot of things you can physically do, or feel like doing, or are excited to do. To say I wasn’t severely disappointed would be lying.

My girlfriend suggested retail therapy.

“It always works!”

So we headed to Michigan Avenue and Water Tower Place.

And that’s when the skies opened up and a beaming glow from up above shined down on me.

Okay. Not really, but the tables turned, for sure.

“Dr. Fitzmaurice! Hiiiii! What are you doing in the city?” I asked, feeling a little bit busted for some reason, running into my baby doctor in downtown Chicago.

“Hanging out for the weekend. What are you doing in the city?”

(Dr. Fitzmaurice: approximately 37 years old, youngest member of the OBGYN practice, apparently hip.)

“This is my childhood friend, Cristina. We were hoping to go to a concert tonight at Solider Field.”

“The Grateful Dead! That’s so cool! What do you mean hoping?”

“My husband…”

“I’ve met him.”

“Well, he’s having a problem with me attending because I’m due so soon. He’s heard they squirt acid or LSD from water bottles at people walking by. And, of course, people smoking dope. He thinks drugs will get into my system and put the baby at risk. We’re sitting in the sound booth area, away from the crowd, so all we really have to do is get inside!”

“Just a second,” he said.

Grabbing his wallet from the back pocket of stylish jeans, he removed a business card. Began writing.

“I give Gina permission to attend the Grateful Dead concert tonight at Solider Field. The wellbeing of your baby will not be at risk if she is squirt with water. Also, there is little chance she will hallucinate, much to her possible dismay. Bill”

“This is outstanding!” I hugged him.

“If he has a problem, tell him to call me. Hey, do you have any extra tickets?”

(Dr. Fitzmaurice: approximately 37 years old, youngest member of the OBGYN practice, totally hip)

I left the mall with a spring in my step as we walked back to my friend’s hotel. I had a permission slip! Na, na, na, na, na, nah!!!!!

“And I DID NOT forge this,” I said as I gleefully presented the card to my husband.

The Grateful Dead Concert at Soldier Field, 1991
photo credit:

Hey! Come over to Yeah Write and visit!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Trifextra: June 28, 2013

Stolen from waters that nearly robbed me.

Absorbing tears

as my lashes dripped,

I abandoned you gently

with others.

Centuries of accumulated




closed chapters,

broken shells.

Without a hindsight glance.


On the Camino de Santiago de Compostella (the 500 mile pilgrimage I completely this summer), it is believed that we carry a stone with us (usually from home) and all our losses, sins, pain, sorrows, weaknesses, insecurities, unanswered prayers, etc., are symbolically embedded within it during our walk. By leaving it behind at La Cruz de Ferro, we shed those things we no longer need to "carry" through life.

This weekend's Trifextra comes to us courtesy of MOV. They want us to give them a 33-word time travel story.  They would love it if we would title it with the year/date that we choose. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Trifecta: Relationship Rainbows

Could it be we’ll never understand each other?

Could it be not completely?

Could it be that men and women just can’t?


Maybe it’s possible only with lovers.

Maybe not even then.

Maybe that’s just normal; the way it seems to go.


Could it be destined for perpetual agree-to-disagrees?

Could it be merely when things are light and bright and cheery?

Could it be mutters of “how sorry” for constant misunderstandings?


Maybe, just maybe, it only works with friends.

Maybe, then, only sometimes.

Maybe, though, it never really works at all.


Maybe it’s just a ridiculous relationship rainbow.

Could it be the only explanation?


33-333 words for the third definition of:

:  an arc or circle that exhibits in concentric bands the colors of the spectrum and that is formed opposite the sun by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in raindrops, spray, or mist
a :  a multicolored array

b :  a wide assortment or range <a rainbow of flavors>

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Yeah Write Moonshine: Saturday at the Mall

I’m betting within less than a minute reading this post, you will ask this question.

“Gina! Why the hell did you go on a Saturday?”

So I should start there.

I went to the mall on a Saturday afternoon for four primary reasons:

1.    It’s a gorgeous day in the Chicagoland area, full of bright sunshine, not too warm or cold, just right! My mall is the outdoor type with flowers, fountains, and all the pretty stuff.

2.    I had time to kill. And since I’m not much of a group shopper especially if I’m shopping for myself, it seemed like the perfect time because I was by myself.

3.    I despise the current contents of my closet. I’m not pleased with my choices, but it is my fault for that. I haven’t been to the mall, or shopping in any form for that matter, in four months. I dislike everything I have from the last few years.

4.    I have a date tonight and I would like to look nice.

What I quickly remembered about the whole driving there, shopping around, and driving home is I don’t like to go to the mall at all, especially on weekends.

And I’m not sure if my annoyance with the mall today is because I’m getting older, less patient, or I’m in a crabby mood. Probably all three.

The parking lot was a disaster because everyone (along with their sisters, brothers, cousins, etc.) was there. No parking spaces were available and I don’t mean the ones near a door either. There were cars lined up two deep, in each row, blocking passage for the rest of us. Annoyed, I circled and circled and circled before I scored my way far away spot.

Arriving into the interior of the mall is where the real fun began!

Three things here annoyed me (but, of course, there were plenty more).

People don’t use manners (could be post on its own). This bothers me immensely because I think I’m exceptionally polite. I use “please” and “thank you” obsessively. And I notice when other people are too ("See, honey, that lady/kid/daddy used good manners."). If I see you coming from a few feet behind, I will wait for you to get there holding the door open so it doesn’t slam in your face because I’m nice. And many of you didn't even bat an eye or spare a second to squeak out “Thank you”. That’s just rude.

Most weekend shoppers are browsers. They take up all the fitting rooms by trying on too many things, walk together in packs blocking racks, and talk far too loudly. It is not the same for the lone shoppers who tend to be on a mission. We aren’t there for fun. We are there to purchase, then leave. So when you are gregariously strolling through stores, please remember your spatial awareness (where your body is in relation to mine). I am not fond of strangers encroaching on my personal space or running directly into me and maybe, or not, saying “excuse me” or “sorry”. Sometimes I think I’m invisible. Additionally, your perfume should be smellable to you, the people in your personal space, but not stuffing the nostrils of the rest of us who are five or more feet away.

Nothing fit the way I wanted.

I didn’t leave empty-handed though, so that cheered me up until I decided to stop at the grocery store on my way home at 4:30pm on a Saturday.

may be getting older and less patient but I am definitely crabby. And I need to get out of this mood because I have a DATE tonight!!!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Trifextra: Smooth Sailing

Sailing on Sassy at Sunset
photo credit: Matt

Pull in the main

And come about.

Tack towards the sunset’s streak, Sassy.

Sail us away.



Almost soundless days

And nights are

Spent in peace.



Smooth sailing lies ahead.

This weekend Trifecta is taking us, once again, back to school for a lesson in literary devices.  Remember the apostrophe? defines apostrophe as, "A figure of speech in which some absent or nonexistent person or thing is addressed as if present and capable of understanding."  We are to provide 33-word example of an apostrophe. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Yeah Write: Long Lost Love Letters

photo credit:

My friend came from a large Italian/Irish family with six kids. They didn’t have nearly enough nickels to rub and were squeezed into a seriously small flat in Queens, New York. He said life was chaotic in their household.

His mother was gregarious, the life of every party,  and Irish. She laughed, danced and told a great joke.

His father was soberly reserved and unemotional. A man who gave his son $100, shook his hand and wished him good luck as he drove himself to college in Milwaukee.

Both have been gone since long before I even knew him.

He said one of his sisters recently found a box of old letters. Love letters between his parents.

One letter stood out as special. Completely unexpected. There wasn’t enough opportunity, he explained, for outward displays of affection amidst the constant comings and goings of his family. It was dated after all six children were born.

The small block print of this letter told a different story. It detailed the deep love and desire a soberly stoic man had for his beautifully extroverted wife. Even then. During the frustration, disorder and confusion they called daily life.

As he shared more about the letters with me, I saw happiness radiating from him. And the romantic in me was intoxicated. I am in love with love letters.

His story immediately got me thinking of how exciting it would be for our children to stumble upon such private sentiments of love between their father and mother after we are gone. Words documenting our feelings for each other during decades of marriage. There are plenty of them.

But then I remembered there were other letters out there too.

Letters that were not between him and me but between me and someone else; someone who once held a special place in my heart. These letters, I sent to my best friend over twenty-five years ago asking her to keep them safely tucked away because I wasn’t ready yet to terminate their existence.

What if they resurfaced someday?

What if we are, all three of us, gone and they find their way back to our children’s hands?

What if? What if? What if?

A sense of panic washed over me.

That’s not what I want.

I want them to unexpectedly discover our love notes when they are parents themselves. To understand even though we seemed stressed out more often than not, we were very much in love. Even though we argued (mainly) over parenting and especially when they were in high school, we loved each other no less. To realize no love is perfect, but still beautiful nonetheless. Their father and mother had a romantic love that sustained a half-century or more. To feel intoxicated and proud in this knowledge.

That’s what I want.

I’ve never asked her if she still has those old letters; if she’s ever read them (and I wouldn’t care if she had). If she does, I will ask her to shred them so they cease to exist.

I need to call her.

This was written for Please wander over following this link. You won’t be disappointed with what you’ll find there!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Trifextra: Afternoon Delight

“Tether our hearts forever.”

His ring said.

“Forever and more.”

Said hers.

“Your skin is velvet. Your hair, a crown of spun gold.”


“Come, husband.”


“Where, wife?”

“The loft.”

“Mmmmm hmmmm.”


Written for Trifecta using the words tether, loft, crown then adding 30 more. Come over and read some awesome entries then vote on Sunday!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Yeah Write: The Day I Stole A Goblet

In a land far, far away enroute to the ruined, Spanish hamlet called Foncebadon (population 10); I had one of the best days of my life so I stole something to commemorate it.

Walking with my closest “Camino” friend, church bells sang just for us (it seemed) at the stroke of mid-day while crossing an ancient stone bridge; a bar of dark chocolate shared in the shadow of a steeple. Trees dripped with cherries. The famously mystical, wild, white dogs basked under benches. Laundry draped sun drenched lines. Crisp cervezas were sipped while smells of seafood paella wafted through windows of the albergue. You get it.

With a glass of vino tinto in my hand at sunset, we walked from a restaurant down the hill to our hostel and sat on a log gazing blissfully out at pastures and snowcapped mountains. Interrupting cowbells, I sighed, “I’m keeping this goblet as a memory of one of the best days of my life.”

It was the one-year anniversary of my accident.

The next morning, roosters woke us early, all twenty-five pilgrims sleeping in one room. And as we sipped our cafĂ© con leches watching the sunrise, backpacks already organized, discussing how far we’d walk that day and where we’d sleep, my friend gently grabbed my elbow.

“I woke at 1:00 thinking about the goblet,” he said.

“I thought about it during the night too,” I replied honestly because I had. Because I wanted it.

He placed his hands on my shoulders and I’ll never forget what he said.

“This village is a special place. We both feel it and we are pilgrims. We don’t take things. It isn’t necessary. We have every memory and they live in our hearts. No one can take them away. We must leave this village as we found it. If we don’t, the feeling will be spoiled forever. You must return the goblet before we go on. I will come with you.” (He’s German and very authoritative.)

I felt like a naughty child being scolded. And I guess I was but he was also right. I had thought about it too; my sleep suffered from pangs of guilt knowing I wasn’t behaving like I should.

So when the sun finished rising, we walked side-by-side down the hill. I gently rested the goblet against the back door of the restaurant so someone would see it without accidentally breaking it.

“Do you feel better?” he asked.

“I do.” And I did.

I felt lighter. I felt pure. I felt connected.

We walked on.

Into a new day's beauty. Into it’s simplicity. Into new memories.


Finally getting slowly back in the groove and that means heading back to one of my favorite places! Yeah Write. Some of the best lurking on the web but it's much more fun to participate!