Hot Reads 8/31/14

Most of  my reading the past week has been flash fiction aka short-shorts or micro-fiction. I don’t think there’s a universally agreed upon definition of flash fiction but I consider it flash if I can read it in under about 5 minutes. I really like flash – it fits in with my minimalist sensibilities and I think it takes a certain kind of talent to strip a story down to as few words as possible but still pack a punch. I like that I can read a story or two in small chunks of time throughout the day. I like the variety and the challenge of reading different voices and styles. So today I’m sharing some great flash pieces I read over the past week, many of which are from Fictionaut which is a good resource for flash and poetry as well as some longer pieces. New pieces are posted there every day so there’s no lag-time like there is with more traditional journals. Here are my picks:

From Fictionaut:

Body Language by R.K. (Update: This story has been removed but you can read R.K.’s stories on her blog, A Beetle With Earrings.)

Touching Jim by Juhi Kalra

Grandma by Donnie Wesley Baines (Don’t let the title fool you.)

At the Lip of the Swimming Lake by Meg Pokrass

Black Purse by Lucinda Kempe

 The Piano Player’s Dead Rejoice by Nonnie Augustine


From WhiskeyPaper: Wild Hearts by Amanda Miska and Leesa Cross Smith

From James Claffey: The Chirr of the Cicada

From New World Writing: Strings by Kathy Fish

From Connotation Press: Comings and Goings and Solstice by Gary Percesepe, preceded by a great interview by Meg Tuite. This is a quote from Gary that I really like: “I love that flash fiction is thriving, as a kind of middle finger to the publishing powers-that-be, a kind of quiet desperation that would please the slumbering Thoreau in Walden, the most un-marketable thing imaginable, and a harbinger (the dreamer in me wants to say) to the writerly/readerly democracy which is yet to come.”



And our book list of the week comes from Book Riot: Book Club Suggestions If Your Most Diverse Pick Was “The Help”


Poem of the week is by Sam Rasnake who has graciously given permission to post here in its entirety. Thanks, Sam!


by Sam Rasnake

I’m the one-eyed troll,
wet, muddy, long nails scratching
stone from dirt below the bridge
while I wait for the boards to creak.

I’m the bridge or the cold
impatient river, or the sky
upside down, blue and white on water.

Mostly, I’m the goat,
my teeth full of grass,
wanting only mountains,
and time to lift my puzzled chin
to what must happen next.


three_billy_goatsI just love this poem because I’ve felt like the troll, the water, the goat at one time or another. Also, The Three Billy Goats Gruff gave me nightmares as a child and that’s a memory that’s stayed with me through life. Isn’t it funny how that happens?


Remember to check our Pinterest Board throughout the week for more Hot Reads and have a great reading week!

Hot Reads 8/24/14

It’s a hot, humid Sunday so sit back and take a look at what we read this week while you sip your beverage of choice. All this and more can be found on our Hot Reads From Pinterest board.
Have a great reading week, y’all!

Onaja Waki (left) is about to start college in California, but she and her mother, Oneida Cordova, have been talking openly for years about the dangers of sexual assault.  Photo credit: Teresa Chin

Onaja Waki (left) is about to start college in California, but she and her mother, Oneida Cordova, have been talking openly for years about the dangers of sexual assault.
Photo credit: Teresa Chin

From NPR: “As Kids Head To Campus, Parents Broach The Subject Of Sexual Assault”
Favorite Quote: “And he may hear all kinds of justifications while at school, she tells him. “I think what concerns me the most is not falling into that group mentality,” she says, “Like, ‘Oh, she’s a slut,’ or, ‘She came wearing a short skirt,’ or, ‘[She] already had sex with one of the guys, therefore it’s OK if everybody does.'”
Least favorite quote: “”That’s one thing I might be relying more on the college orientation helping them through, and giving them some guidelines and things to look out for,” says Gail.”
Note: It’s called sticking your head in the sand syndrome.

From Bloomberg: Hook-Up Culture at Harvard, Stanford Wanes Amid Assault Alarm
Favorite quote: ““This is the only crime where people blame the victim,” said Annie E. Clark, co-founder of End Rape on Campus, based in Los Angeles. “Regardless of what you do, you don’t ask for a crime to be committed.” “

From the U.K.’s Mirror: Crack unit of female soldiers hunting Islamic State kidnappers.
Tagline: Heavily armed women from the Turkish PKK have gone into Iraq to tackle the jihadists.
Favorite quote: ““Our support is just as important for the peshmerga as these US strikes – bombings alone cannot get rid of guerrilla groups,” said Sedar Botan, a female PKK veteran commander.”

And, on a lighter note, from Slate: Musical nostalgia: Why do we love the music we heard as teenagers?
Favorite quote: “The period between 12 and 22, in other words, is the time when you become you. It makes sense, then, that the memories that contribute to this process become uncommonly important throughout the rest of your life. They didn’t just contribute to the development of your self-image; they became part of your self-image—an integral part of your sense of self.”

Book list of the week: Awkward Paper Cut 2014 summer book list – “Summer is synonymous with reading. Wherever you may find yourself, the books below will take you to new places, teach you new things, nudge you to see the world in a different way. Brief, but well-culled, a mix of new work and work that we believe should find a larger audience.”

And our poem for the week is by Luci Tapahonso, This is How They Were Placed for Us.
Note: The audio of this is beautifully read by the poet.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Dona Nobis Pacem

Today is Blog Blast for Peace Day which was started by Mimi Lenox in 2006 and has been growing every year since. The idea is to write a blog post about peace incorporating the icon for the blast which is a globe. Mimi provides a variety of templates for the participants to choose from to create their own personalized peace globe, as I’ve done above.

I chose the quote by Indira Gandhi on my globe because it’s as meaningful today as the day she spoke it in 1968. This is not a typical post about peace. You’ll find no poets or songwriters dreams quoted here.

Today, like then, we are in the midst of fighting a war in a foreign land while people in our own country are in need. Our country is in dire economic straits because of the huge amounts of money that have been spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, people in our own country have been held hostage by big insurance companies that take our money but deny us coverage or drop us when we need it most, our education ranking is near the bottom when compared with 30 other countries in the world, families are losing their homes at an unprecedented rate and the numbers of women and children living in poverty are increasing.
Add to that social issues such as the rampant bullying of gays resulting in a plague of teen suicides and the rise of what I think of as “convenient Christians”* who are engaging in fear tactics and blatant lies to advance their political power in this country and peace seems an unattainable goal.

Where does an average American woman look for peace?

She looks to  herself, her family and her friends. She lives her life being as good a person as she can be which includes empathy for others including those unlike herself. She listens and tries to understand another’s point of view and she doesn’t condemn  those who think differently. She cultivates peace within herself. And she hopes with all her being the people in this country will wake up and realize that peace begins with each one of us.

*Convenient Christians claim to follow the teachings of Jesus when it furthers their own goals.

Originally published 11/4/10 on TravelingMermaid.


Disclaimer: This will probably be a rambling post so feel free to go on to more important things, if you wish.

I’m up in rural Mississippi visiting my family for a few days, kicking back like I haven’t done in ages and feeling quite removed from all things New Orleans. I’ve barely been on the computer (dial-up sucks!) and have watched very little TV so I’m way  behind on the oil spill situation, what happened on Treme and the tweets of my friends back home since Twitter is impossible to get on.  I feel a twinge of guilt now & then because I’m not reading or keeping up with the spill 24/7 like I was but I remind myself I’ll be back in a day or two and it won’t take long to catch up. TV viewing is limited (no cable or satellite) but I don’t really care. I’m rereading A Confederacy of Dunces and, as a result of my laughing out loud, my mom has put it on her to-read list. Everything is in slow-mo here….days are long and languid. I awaken to the braying of  John the Baptist (the donkey), the lowing of cattle and the sweet twittering of birds. I haven’t heard a siren, a bus or a horn in 3 days.

I needed this.

Another from my archives . . .

Well this sure is an interesting way to live! LOL!

Every day we get up and dressed and head out to find things — today’s item was propane that was less that $50 a bottle. Got it! HOORAY!

Then it’s off to the National Guard distribution center to pick up our rations: MRE’s, water, ice, canned goods, toilet paper. MRE’s are surprisingly not half bad, and all of my neighbors gather round and share tips – like always squeeze your cheese spread into the entree, really makes it better – LOL! Then we stand in line at Winn Dixie, where guardsmen with automatic rifles allow only a certain number of people into the store – where there is really nothing to buy. Something to do anyway!

Meanwhile, the military presence is everywhere. Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters flying overhead, tent cities at every school and public building – surrounds by hundreds of deuce-and-a-half trucks, jeeps, humvees.

No mail yet, but I have been seeing UPS trucks for a couple of days now.

Today I am going to file for unemployment. We will not reopen the store. Very big sigh. It took us 9 months to do the initial build-out, and that was in good times when supplies were available. We have about a year and a half to the lease, which is most likely nullified at this point anyway. Our insurance ought to cover what we owe in payables, both long- and short-term, and we will probably work out of our warehouse (which sustained NO damage – a small bright ray there!) for a few months, helping any of our clients that we can to get their lives back on track.

Speaking of clients, we have already heard from a lot of our very good ones – but do you recall the man whose house burnded to the ground right after he had just completed redoing it? He had just gotten to the SAME point in his new construction — in Eden Isles — a neighborhood that Katrina completely levelled What rotten luck

Later I am taking an hour-trip to get somewhere that used to take me about 20 minutes. There is still flooding on the interstate, so I have to take an alternate route to bring the boys to meet MIL who will take them for a few days. And the checkpoints! PHEW! There are ID checkpoints surrounding our area, clogging traffic – that we must pass to get in.

I have to constantly keep the tv or radio tuned to information stations. That is kind of interesting too! All sorts of advisories – about how to not hurt yourself on your roof, or with your generator – blah blah blah. Numbers to call for food assistance, unemployment, finding lost loved ones or lost employees – job offers.

As the date approaches – it’s the best I can do


An Archive

11-Hour Drive Later

And we are not that much further away — about 90 miles WNW of New Orleans at my sister’s house in Baton Rouge – definitely safer than in New Orleans, but people are evacuating out of HERE too – and everythng is boarded up, businesses and stores closed . . . we still expect hurricane force winds and rain — but at least we are above sea level We decided to evacuate this morning, when my brother (also a police officer) reported that his Chief had just placed an order for 3000 body bags . . . The recommendations we heard on the radio on the way up were nightmarish. Officials advising that those who decided to stay, make sure to put the necessary tools in their attics so that when the water rises into them, they can hack out of their roofs Bryan is in a hotel in the French Quarter – there aren’t any police stations that they expect can withstand the winds – and all of them would be under water. The last time I talked to him he had been called out because there was a tornado close.The drive up was unbelievable. Bumper to bumper traffic for all 90 miles ~ the dogs farted all the way up (GROSS!) and Owen threw up from motion sickness (how did he get THAT since we hardly MOVED?) twice – one of the dogs peed in the back of the Jeep . . . We did not find an open service station or store until 7:30 – and we had barely eaten more than snacks all day long.They expect to lose power here sometime later tonight – and in New Orleans, they do not expect to get it back for several weeks. I do have Heather’s phone number — so I’ll call her with some updates, but I think we are safer here, anyway.I hate to think about the house — I’ll be really happy to see it again . . . God willing.Thank you all so much for thinking of us! The next few days, weeks – maybe months will be interesting . . . Love ya!

Some random, unorganized, rambling about me

Hi! I’m Gina and I am addicted to coffee and books. Single mom of two boys, living in Algiers, former-accountant-now-second-grade-teacher, go ahead – ask me what I think of charter schools, formerly married to a first responder, divorce now in my back pocket due more to stormy relationship than related to the storm, age: 41, born in Virginia – Navy-brat, moved to the Wank with the fam in 1978 from Connecticut, loves local beer, local music & local crawfish, math degree @ Loyola, MBA @ UNO, favorite color = blue, gimme a mango and/or coconut snoball . . . or almond, don’t want to ever, ever, ever have to evacuate again.
NOLA Passions: education, neighborhood restoration, historic preservation, eating, drinking and shaking it!

Local Writer Billy Sothern Finally Started a Blog

Billy Sothern is a criminal defense attorney and writer in New Orleans. He is the author of Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City as well as occasional pieces in The Nation.

He just joined the New Orleans blogger community with his new project, Imperfectly Vertical. The blog includes reflections on the humus that inspire his perspective on life in New Orleans both general and personal. His political views tend to roar out of even the most seed-like of subject matter, as if the potential for his whole ideology lay within each kernel.

Rachel Maddow twittered the blog, writing:

My pal Billy Sothern’s newish blog makes me wish I blogged. And that I could write. And that I lived in NOLA.

Recycling an Old Habit

One casualty of Katrina was curbside recycling.  In Jefferson Parish, until last month, the Parish, about once a month, would arrange for a location where folks could drive to drop off recyclables.  I think even less was offered in Orleans Parish.

I hate to admit that for the past four years (oh, the guilt), I have not been recycling.  And even though I started a worm bin to not add vegetable clippings to landfills, I have been adding all manner of other, far worse, items.

So when I read that Jefferson Parish was no longer doing any free recycling, I can’t explain why, but I acted.  Finally.  I went to Phoenix Recycling’s website and signed up for paid curbside recycling.  And for a mere $15 a month, I am recycling more than the Parish ever took for free.  They take newspapers, the bags the newspapers come in, cardboard, plastic.  Really, they take all but plastic hangers, plastic grocery bags, and glass. The pick up every other week.

And in the FIRST week of recycling, we reduced what went to a landfill by TWO large kitchen garbage bags.  That’s 104 bags of trash from my home alone.  My small family of three.

So, are you like I was–still not recycling becuase it’s no longer free?  Do your conscience a favor, go to Phoenix Recycling, pay the $15 and recycle to your heart’s content.