Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Be the Aloha You Wish to See in the World

Yoga brings me special presents. Not every day, but it gives me something to grab onto each and every time.

Supta Baddha Konasana, or Reclining Bound Angle Pose, is  a challenging and often beginning pose meant to open up your hips. The hips hold a world of tension in the body, and it is difficult to think about anything but pain when your knees are splayed such as they are. At least for me.

So yesterday, I felt fortunate the theme of my morning practice, “Aloha”, seeped into my consciousness at all. Yes, it generally means hello and goodbye in Hawaii, and when I imagine it, it feels like it should have a paper umbrella floating in it. But I am talking about the deeper meaning of the word. It really sunk in. Especially now. And at this time of the year.


I could look it up, certainly, and find different definitions. I’m satisfied with this one today. I want to be the "Aloha".

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Like We Didn't All Know?

Of course, we knew Strasburg would pitch today. Are you kidding? "Under the weather", yeah, right. I had to laugh when former Cub's coach, Dusty Baker, blamed the change of weather, hotel and Cub's clubhouse AC and Chicago's mold for undermining the general health of his team, but, first and foremost, their star pitcher.  I'm just a lifelong fan, and even I knew the game he was playing. What high level athlete with the sniffles is going to decline to play the potentially biggest game of the season for his team?


It's Chicago. It's blustery. The weather changes on a dime, and it's two hours to game time.


(Wonder if there are tickets for sale today due to postponement?)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

100 Word Challenge: Bridge Over Troubled Water

His back faced me doing something meaningless. I know that now.

“Notice how much weight I’ve lost?” 

“Yes, why is that?” 

What I should have asked only more delicately. In utter weakness, I responded,

“Will you be okay?”

“I hope so.”

Not sure why, but I left your words hanging. So unlike me. 

Ten days later, you didn’t come in or call. So unlike you my neck hairs raised.

Things I’ll miss: your ready smile, gentleness, intense knowledge, disgusting chips, sense of humor. Not in that order. 

The dolphins swam in your honor last night. Did you feel it, too? 

There’s a destructive and betraying disease out there, friends. Chronic Delression is cunning. It's often a secret. By asking if it was cancer, maybe he would have confided in me that it was not. He probably would have deflected anyway. Suicide leaves so much pain and unanswered questions.

The word at Thin Spiral Notebook was “Wish”. We could use or imply it. What I wish I would have asked, wish I would have pursued, wish I could have changed the inevitable.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

100-Word Challenge: Diaries, To Keep or Not to Keep?

Journaling fills me with tremendous trepidation. I have five journals started in nooks and crannies. When I was young, my locked diary was cream-colored. My kids found it covered in socks, promptly picked, then giggled at mommy’s middle school yearnings. Sometimes I rant and vent and write about fictitious events. Other times, secrets.

Might be from a Reese Witherspoon movie, but I imagine being in the bathtub, eyes closed, sunk up to my chin in bubbles, when someone comes in waving my journal. I feel panic, helplessness and violation simultaneously. 

It hasn’t happened. Yet. It’s all too vulnerable though.

In which we write 100 words using the prompt "Diary" thanks to Tara at Thin Spiral Notebook. I started two other entries, but, of course, they were too vulnerable ;-).

Thursday, July 27, 2017

100-Word Challenge: Clockwork

I know it’s 6:05 a.m. so there’s no need to look. My still sleeping mind knows the shower door swings open exhaling sweet wafts of steamy fog. It summons sunshowers in summertime. The fresh, wind snapped smell of terry cloth stirs me. Not quite desire, but close. If my eyes were open, I’d quickly see my beloved’s silhouette jet past to the closet. What's the hurry?

Once I whisper, 

“Come back to me, Honey. Let me inhale your Dove-scented skin from top to toes. Make you tardy for work.”

You’ll stay. You’re like clockwork. With some things.


The 100-word challenge at Thin Spiral Notebook provided us with the word "water". We can either use or imply it. This one's been in my notepad in a different version for a long time

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Westward Ho

The kid hitched a brim-full U-Haul to his Jeep and set out under the swiftly changing sky. Her eyes caught wisps of his golden curls blowing out the window as she waved from the curb. 

What’s a conflicted mother to do but beg him to stay? 

Knowing it wasn’t fair and not what either wanted or needed, she did it anyway. Some things can’t be helped.

If she could see his eyes in the mirror, she bet they were brimming too. Hers would have made it harder for him, so she feigned brightness.

Time to fly, baby boy. 


The word is ROAD, either used or implied. Tara's 100 word prompt was perfect for me this week. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Costa Rican Addition: It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

Talk about things that go bump in the night. AND day! It's no wonder Spielberg chose this country to film "Jurassic Park". So many crazy hybrid animals!

Sitting at the Liberia airport with time on my hands. So here goes.

What have I recently finished reading?

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich. Interconnected short stories of an extended Native American family in North Dakota. She's a fabulous writer. 4+ stars.

What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. Outstanding stories and writing. Each involves a key of some sort. To a library, heart, door, mind. You get the picture. Loved it!

What am I reading now?

The Ravishing of Lol Stein by Marguerite Duras, translated from French. Only 30 pages in but liking it very much so far. It's short so I should finish it by Houston.

What will I read next?

I have Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan in my carry on. It's supposed to be light and fun. Good deal!

That's it! How about you?

Hosted by The Book Date

Saturday, April 29, 2017



They care nothing of what you want. It is said they reveal themselves on their own terms. 

And there’s this come hither sense to them, too. A beckoning finger. A sultry laugh.
An enigma or a best kept secret, they are.

And their constant teasing left my heart aching. Longing. Hopeful.
They held me there for days. Captive. 

Leave them alone, I told myself. Ignore them. Let them think they mean nothing.

And then it happened. When I least expected. Catching me unprepared. 

Inviting the late afternoon breeze into the room, I caught a sudden glint. My eyes widened with disbelief.

There it was. Naked without its veil. Illuminated.

The sun's last streaks banking off its peak.

Unexpected. Unbelievably majestic. Like a movie backdrop. 
My hand reached out into the crisp air. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

It's Monday, April 24th! This is What I'm Reading. How About You?

Hosted by The Book Date

What have I finished reading?

Last week was both Book Club #2, followed closely by Book Club #1. As luck would have it, and for different reasons, I missed both although I did finish the chosen books.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles was read for BC#2. I, borderline, loved this book. It was the second novel in the last few I have read set in Russia so I was more acclimated to similar sounding character names. The story begins when the main character, in his early twenties, is sentenced by the Bolshevik government to live out his remaining years on house arrest in a famous Russian hotel for being an aristocrat. He is warned that he will be shot on sight if he ever steps foot outside its confines. His world narrows as does his living quarters, which change from a luxurious suite to one hundred square feet of space. His closest friends become the staff and returning guests of the hotel. He manages to thrive and find a certain happiness in his reduced circumstance mostly because of the relationships he develops and cultivates. 

If you loved Rules of Civility like me, this is a wonderfully told tale like that! Read it!

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich was read for BC#1. I love her. Her writing is so, so good and so meticulous. Her characters are always raw and flawed and authentic feeling. Have you read Olive Kitteridge where characters weave through multiple story lines, but the each truly is a separate short story? This was a similar experience. All of Erdrich’s novels are set in North Dakota Indian Territories. She lives there and knows the culture well, both Native American Indians and other nationalities living in close proximity to the local reservations. It is fantastic as is she.

What am I currently read?

Today I start Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. While I have had it on loan since last summer and have wanted to read it even longer than that, he is coming next weekend to the Chicago Humanities Festival’s Spring Event to speak about the book and I would like to be finished by then. Here is what Goodreads has to say about this book.

I am still listening to Edgar and Lucy. Still about halfway through the almost twenty hours of narration. Still loving it, but there is only so much time I can be in the car or walk around with earbuds in.

What will I read next?

I really need to alternate participating in these two groups. 
Book Club #1 has chosen Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders for our next read. I have already read it so, YIPPEE, I have some free choice time for reading with no idea what I will read next! How freeing! 

Any suggestions?

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!!!