Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Stealing: I Have Answers!

  1. Do you know any couples that have been married for a long time? Almost everyone I know has been, or was, married for over a quarter century.
  2. What are you tired of people telling you? That I need to move     back to the suburbs.
  3. Which type of ice cream do you prefer? You mean flavor? I like vanilla with chocolate sauce or salted caramel. If you mean type, I will always order a chocolate shake, malted preferred.
  4. Do you have a little sister? What’s her name? I am still mad at my mom and dad for not giving me a sister. No, I’m not really. I consider my life filled with sisters who happen to not be of blood relation. Maggie, Sue, Cathy, Jen, Liz, Cristina. Sorry if I have forgotten anyone.
  5. What was the last movie you watched on TV? Last night, we watched Burnt with Bradley Cooper. It was okay. I like movies about cooking, but I was frustrated with the lack of annunciation. 
  6. If the internet wasn’t available, what would you do instead? I am only taking a quick break from what I was just doing, which is reading. Reading is a default function/activity for me. I am reading a short story collection called American Housewives by Helen Ellis, if you were curious. It’s pretty funny.
  7. Do you complain a lot? I don’t think so, but you should ask my husband for confirmation.
  8. Name a movie that you favorite actor is in? Hmmmmm. I don’t have a current favorite. Sorry, Tatum.
  9. Do you like your toes? I like them better when they are painted, which they are now. The color is “Lincoln Park After Dark”. It is a purple so deep it is almost black. It’s my winter color. But do I really like them? Eh, they are a little chubby.
  10. Would you rather go to an authentic haunted house or an ancient temple? Oh, I hate haunted houses! I would have horrible dreams for years. I can’t stand things jumping out at me. I LOVE ancient temples (I was in Nepal eleven months ago and was fortunate to see fifty or more!)
  11. Have you ever had champagne? Did you like it? I love champagne. I almost bought a tee-shirt at Christmastime that said “Champagne and Spaghetti”. That kind of sums me up!
  12. Are there any seashells in your room? Definitely. I pick them up whenever I can. Rocks, too.
  13. What was the reason for the last time you went outside? I went to yoga this afternoon.
  14. Do you like fruity or minty gum? Minty. Fresh breath is important.
  15. Are you looking forward to any day of this month? YES! I am very much looking forward to February 11th!!! My hubby is taking me somewhere and I have no idea where. My only clues are some Christmas gifts including two rain ponchos, an umbrella, and a wireless and waterproof speaker. Sounds like I am going to get wet. Better not be cold and wet.
  16. What was the last graduation you attended? My daughter’s college graduation.
  17. Do you rummage throughout he $5 movie bin at Walmart? Um, always.
  18. What day of the week do you usually do laundry? Everyday. I do a load a day.
  19. Do you like using air fresheners? Where the heck did this question come from? Are candles included? I burn them a lot. Citrus or clean linen are my favorite scents.
  20. Are you nails ever painted red? Yes, during the holiday season, but a very deep and dark shade.
  21. When you were a baby, did you have a favorite blanket? I am not aware.
  22. Ever been on a cruise? Three.
  23. Would your rather go to Alaska or Russia? Mine may be an unpopular answer.
  24. Strawberries or bananas? Love both, with chocolate all the better. Forced to choose? Strawberries.
  25. Are you wearing socks? Right now, no. I rarely wear them no matter the season.
  26. When was the last time you went to the mall? A couple of weeks. I am not much of a store shopper.

Friday, January 29, 2016

100 Word Challenge: Unlisted Numbers

There’s nothing peculiar or untoward about it. She moved to the city for anonymity, and “the world is your oyster” youthful excitement.

She singsong delivers a carbon-copy greeting to her doorman each day,

“Good morning, Benjamin! How are you today?”

Breezing out the front door, the blue-gray sky and high-rises feel like donning a gauze veil.


“I can see your building from my balcony.”

The phone number is unrecognizable sending her summer skin shivering, her senses to full alert, and sprinting back to her place to grab protection. She has an inkling. Better safe than sorry.

100 Word Challenge
The word is Peculiar.
So thrilled Tara from Thin Spiral Notebook took over the reins of 100 Word Challenge. A little rusty in the creative writing department, but my goal is to push through the discomfort and begin again!

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Mermaid by William Butler Yeats

A mermaid found a swimming lad,

Picked him for her own,
Pressed her body to his body,
Laughed: and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness
That even lovers drown.

               William Butler Yeats

(This I would tattoo along my right side ribs. In black.)

It's Monday, January 25th! What Are You Reading?


It has been a long, long while since I voluntarily undertook and completed a 720 page book, but I did last week! I finished A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. First and foremost, this story is about love. And friendship. Yanagihara (I love saying her name!) follows one character, Jude St. Francis, for decades and the relationships that thread through his life. We know something bad, very bad, happened to Jude in his childhood; that is no secret. You need to pull out your thesaurus for words to describe the horrific things this character faces. Like all of us, his experiences formed who he is, and we see the impact this has on his relationships. I cared about these characters so much that what happens actually hurt. I am still thinking about them two days out and will, most likely, continue to do so. While it was expansive and epic, it was also one of the most difficult books I have ever read due to subject matter. Not for the faint of heart! I highly recommend this book.

After setting down A Little Life, I stood before my book shelves looking for something fun and light. There isn’t much “fluff” there though I wish there was for this very reason, but I did find one to fit the bill, The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter. Have you read Beautiful Ruins? He wrote that too, but this has a far different feel. It is cheeky and hilarious. The writing is crisp and clever. While I am only 60 pages in, this guy is funny! I am having fun, and it’s exactly what the doctor ordered. (I just now discovered there is a movie based on this book starring Jack Black. Hmmmmm...)

I am also working my way through a second collection of poems by Mary Oliver called Dream Work. I am liking it even better than her Pulitzer Prize winning American Primitive, which I adored. There is a special poem in this one. It is the reason I picked up Oliver to begin with. After I finish, I will tell you the story.

Can’t wait to get my hands on My Name is Lucy Barton. I am a huge Strout fan since Olive Kitteridge

Tell me about you. Anything. Which book are you holding this week?

Hosted by The Book Date!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Lunch Date: You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'

I don’t know about her, but I am pretty sure I have.

If you happened to peruse yesterday’s post about a lunch date, this is the followup, which went pretty much as expected.

[Here’s some insider info about me: When I know I am going to see someone I like, I am almost giddy with anticipation. I am excited. I can’t wait! If I know you well, be prepared for several warm hugs and, most likely, a snuggle on your cheek (I am a very affectionate person.).]

I was dragging my butt getting ready. I had a small pit in my stomach. More importantly, I felt  mostly nothing.

There was a mediocre fondness upon sight. The greeting was lukewarm at best. The hug was cursory.

Upon brief glance around the apartment, she pronounced the “new love nest”, in which I have now lived for one and a half years, “wide open” and “I bet the view is nice in the summer.”

I had previously made reservations at a delectable restaurant, in part, because I didn’t want to hear her bitch then or later that the food or service sucked, which she is wont to do. We ordered a glass of wine, (Yeehaw! Man, I needed one.) and after several questions about menu items and ingredients (her's, not mine), we placed an order.

We talked about her lake house and its renovations, how difficult and exhausting it is maintaining two home (her main and lake), dermatologists, her dog and travel. [Yawn!]

She must have needed to catch her breath because she asked for an update on my kids. I briefly told her about my daughter’s new-ish job, to which she said, 

“Didn’t you tell me this before Christmas?” 

“Yep, I sure did.” She was listening!

I provided a one sentence synopsis of my son’s life then promptly shut up. She followed with an additional multiple minutes long overview of both her kids.

[Blogger's $.02: If you have to do a fairly major life update when you talk with someone, you are an acquaintance not a close friend.]

Here's the pièce de résistance?

The bill came so I grabbed for it to do the quick division. She never flinched or made a move in the direction of her wallet. So I said,

“I got it.”

To which she exclaimed, 


As the monies were being exchanged, she mentioned she had been running late and didn't have time to stop at the ATM. 

"Do you have cash for the valet ($14 + tip)? I'll take you home so you don't have to take a taxi." 

What just happened here?

If I wasn’t so numb, I’d be pissed, but this is typical, and what it is like being friends with her, and why she is fodder. 

I can confidently put a check mark next to “Took the high road.” (though it cost me about $75). I can be thankful for the friends that do care about me and know my kids. Most importantly, I can move on without guilt.

I’ve lost that lovin’ feeling and it’s gone, gone, gone, whoa-oa-o…

But it still makes me sad.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Writing About People You Know IRL

So this resides on my desktop, which means I look at it almost daily. I guess I use it as inspiration for lamenting; I mean writing.

I would not consider myself the world’s nicest person, but I am extremely kind, compassionate and diplomatic. Must be the balance of being a Libra if you believe in such things. Anyway, I find it so hard to write about real life, the things that aggravate, frustrate, piss me off. I am mortally afraid someone (God only knows who because I am not aware that anyone I know outside the blogosphere reads here, if that.) will read this and think I’m talking crap about them. It frightens me. Then again, I could point directly above and say, “See, it’s you not me!”

Talking trash used to be easier when I had a creative outlet. Gosh darn you, Trifecta. Oh how I miss you! I could write a story and slap the label “FICTION” on it. I used it to cover my “real life” ass more times than I will admit.

Now, I feel stuck.

It’s like the emails I get from work on a regular basis. There are 200 divers at the aquarium, but, I swear, every reprimand that is issued I consider personally. I rethink my last work shift sifting through my actions and behavior trying to figure out if I somehow was the violator! It’s insane, but I think it must cross everyone’s mind. Yes?

Where is this whole thing going?

I have never thought of myself as passive-aggressive, but watch THIS!

To the person I have always considered a friend who talked smack about me (and my besties) recently to a hair dresser who also does the hair of someone else I know and works out at the same gym, who in turn couldn’t have told me fast enough. Yeah, your opinion of me got around. 

There are three things I do not talk about, in general. Religion, politics, and money. It’s been a good rule. I am not going to attempt to change your opinions and you may or may not change mine. I don’t enjoy debating these subjects, but you do, and just because I don’t doesn’t make me a person lacking depth or that my conversations are not intellectual enough, which is pretty much what you said. I do not talk about handbags, shoes, clothes or houses either. 

Hit me up about literature, art, big city living, theater, movies, fitness, food, travel (obscure and simple). Ponder thoughts with me on religion, politics, materialism, and commercialism. Don’t ram them down my throat. I have opinions, strong ones too. Like on gun control! I would be happy to engage in mutually satisfying, stimulating and intelligent conversation endlessly, that is, if I could ever get a fucking word in edgewise. 

Maybe you’ll read this before we have lunch tomorrow so I am not tempted to tell you this in person. Who am I kidding; I won’t. I’d rather be passive-aggressive. Sometimes it’s easier then calling out a one-time friend. 

Or maybe I will just label this "FICTION".

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Who Moved My Cheese?, and MLK, Jr. Addition)

Hosted by The Book Date

When I have a dog sitter (AKA Darling Daughter or Sassy Son) in the house, which I did this last weekend, I can never find my stuff, like this computer, once they vacate. I searched and searched for it thinking I’d eventually have to write this post on my phone. Once found, and in reality, I have this very vague memory that it was where I, myself, stashed it. But never mind that when I can place blame elsewhere for my frustration. I am mostly kidding here. 

What am I reading this bright and sunny though absolutely frigid Monday morning? I am still making my way through Hanya Yanatihara’s 720 page book called A Little Life. I am within 200 pages of finishing so I feel the end is in sight. My goal is to finish before Thursday night’s Read Harder book group meeting here in Chicago!!!

As I feel with most hefty tomes (The Goldfinch as one example), some fat could be trimmed from the story. I am truly loving the character development in this book, BUT…

I am fully aware and anticipate being completely crushed and broken-hearted once I finish. There is no other place for this story to go, and I will be intensely disappointed, after devoting so much time, if the author ties this up with a pretty bow. I highly doubt she will.

I am also about a quarter way through a collection of poems called Dream Work by Mary Oliver. If you remember, last week I read Oliver’s Pulitzer Prize winning collection called American Primitive (I sent it to a known poetry lover and I hope they enjoy it). I am liking Dream Work even more!

Not sure what I will be in the mood for once I finish A Little Life. I am expecting a hangover. Though, in the spirit of this holiday, Martin Luther King Day, I should aim to finish Between the World and Me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Vacation Reading

Before anyone gets really upset with me, remember I am probably 15 years older than you with over half my life now in the rearview mirror. Want to trade ages?

I have a standard sized, black 24” piece of luggage. I bring it on all my trips because no matter how hard the zipper is to secure, it is almost surely guaranteed to weigh less than the 50 pound weight restriction. Also, I make my hubby get on the scale with it because I have absolutely no desire to see what I weigh, fully clothed, right before I am about to go and gain more weigh. Uh, uh.

When packing for vacation, most people would spend the majority of time pondering what to wear. There is the daytime climate and temperature to consider, but also the evening. I have always subscribed to the theory that having options is best.

Except, this is not how my mind works. I spend hours selecting my book options. Sure, I can buy a book at an airport, but what if they only have some cheesy best-sellers that hold no interest to me. Plus, I have about one hundred unread books here and I might have book-shopped in anticipation.

So like the weather, my vacation book choices must also take into account a multitude of situational factors like if there is traffic on the way to the airport because there's always traffic in Chicago, a plane delayed by weather because it's Chicago, climate changes at destination (sunshine vs. rain), daytime or nighttime, tipsy or not, heavy or light content, etc.. 

I need an airport read to satisfy any quick seconds I have as hubby walks off to get us coffee or glass of wine (poems). One for the 4 hour plane ride there, a pool option for when others are around because I get distracted by conversation (short story collection). Should I get a few hours all to myself when everyone else goes golfing, I will need one then (because I would probably finish the book from plane trip)! I will need one to read after hubby falls asleep. Lastly, I will need one for the trip home unless I see that a good movie will be playing eastbound from California.

See how my wheels spin?

You may be wondering how all these books affect my luggage weight, so let me explain. I usually carry on two, pack a few lighter ones in my suitcase then stick the heaviest one plus a few pairs of shoes and all the sunscreen into my husband’s bag because his never, ever approaches the weight maximum. And a girl’s got to have options.

Or just maybe, I should pack one big one to read when I can, but spend most of the time talking to the people I am with.That’s a tough one for a rather reserved, voracious reader. You know what I mean?

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's Monday!!! What Are You Reading?

Having a hard time concentrating lately. Reading has suffered for it, and that bums me out. Plus it is colder than a witch’s tit here. 

(All titles are linked to their Goodreads description. I am linking this up with The Book Date!)

In the last week I finished a book of poems titled American Primitive by Mary Oliver. This collection won Oliver the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1983, which is coincidentally the year I graduated from college! I reviewed it as such:

“Done and dusted in one day! Maybe I should have lingered with them longer, but it was cold and dreary and I was in a sappy mood so, I guess, this was exactly what my soul needed that day. They warmed me like a soft blanket. These poems are based in nature and I loved that. I have also heard it's Oliver's "thing". Whether the poem is about a season or a tree or an animal, I felt. I, in particular, loved the ones about seasons in general or the herons (I believe my dear mother-in-law was reincarnated as one because they were her favorite birds and are a plenty on a small lake in Indiana I know well, and one regularly rests on the end of my pier when I'm there. Okay, so I talk with it, too. Don't tell anyone.). While all of them touched me, perhaps my favorite was "Music". AH, but "In Blackwater Woods". "The Plum Trees"!!!!!!! Maybe, "Postcard from Flamingo". I simply enjoyed too many. I have Dream Work, also by Oliver. Today seems like the perfect day to start that one.”

I also finished the novel Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy, and this is what I had to say:

“Dark like Cormac McCarthy, but the writing is not sparse. It felt more lush, yet stomach-turning, if you can possibly place those two adjectives in the same sentence and it make sense. I enjoyed this glimpse into a world with which I am extremely unfamiliar. However, there are underlying motivations for the characters' actions and behavior that are all too human and, at times, relatable even if I'd hate to admit it.”

I am currently on page 310 of a 720 page tome called A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It is incredibly heavy stuff and, as I explained to a friend, I have to put it down after 20-30 pages to digest and take a break! It doesn’t move at breakneck speed, but I am determined to push through. 

I am also listening to Did You Ever Have a Family? by Bill Clegg. I can’t get enough of this book! I am 75 % finished, but I knew early on that it had the potential to become an all-time favorite. I think that is still true!

I picked up Dream Work by Mary Oliver this morning. It is her followup collection of poems to American Primitive. I am excited to read more from her.

Enough about me! What are you reading???

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

About Those New Year Revolutions*

I have started and stopped this first post four or five times in the last two days trying to decide what I wanted to say and share, and in which direction I wanted to go, serious or light. 

I was recently reminded of a quote from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston:
“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
What if last year did neither? 

A year without fluidity, or so it seemed.

I got no closer, but no farther away either. 

From what?

Here are some tasty, if general, morsels from my year:

2015 saw the bearing of emotional weight unlike any other that I can remember. Then there were the losses, both physical and otherwise. 

And yet, I traveled far and wide seeing things only one other people I know has ever seen, and frolicked through places everyone else had already been and I always longed to go.

Spent an enormous amount of time with the people I love the most like I was trying to make up for something, but wasted time, in equal measure, with people I didn’t love at all. Though, in all honesty, that was fun, too.

I did so many things right last year, but I made almost the same amount of mistakes. 

I felt to the point of pain. Or pleasure. And I felt intensely human.

So how do I quantify a year like this in a couple hundred words, let alone make it make sense to you? Where to begin? More importantly, where do I go from here?

I’m not longing or looking for fresh starts this year. At least not for me. I am yearning to feel more more intensely. 

In people, in peace, in books, in travel, in thoughts, in writing. 

Just more.

I’ll end this mishmash of words with a story from January 1, 2016 where I set off bottle rockets with close friends in rural Indiana to ring in the New Year:

Too bright and too early on the first day of 2016, we found ourselves completely out of coffee. This is not a good thing when six sets of eyes, who over-imbibed the previous eve, are staring at you in disbelief. 

My house, my run to the grocery store, in my pajamas.

Laying down my Dunkin' Donuts grind on her belt, the far too cheery checkout clerk asked through her, no matter how toothless, yet contagious smile,

“Make any New Year’s revolutions?!?!?!?”

(Yes, that's what she said.)

In my weak attempt to match her enthusiasm, I replied,

“Not yet! You?”

“HA, HA!!! Nope, never do!"

"Maybe I shouldn't either!!! Have a great year!"

"You too, Honey Bunches!"

As I walked out, I couldn’t help but laugh. 

I laughed because of her verve and warmness at such an hour. I laughed because of her mix up. I laughed because maybe she did mean 'revolutions' as words have multiple meanings and contexts.

I will never forget the woman who changed the early morning of January 1, 2016 for the better, so easily and simply. With just a mix up (maybe) and a smile.

May I, likewise, be the one who changes someone else’s day, so easily and simply, for the better, at least one time during this year.

(A simple definition)
noun rev·o·lu·tion \ˌre-və-ˈlü-shən\

: the usually violent attempt by many people to end the rule of one government and start a new one

: a sudden, extreme, or complete change in the way people live, work, etc.
: the action of moving around something in a path that is similar to a circle