Authors to Read

Today I would like to talk about two authors I know that have greatly inspired me. I think you might enjoy their work, too.

In my Monday writing group is an extremely talented Sci-Fi author named John Kelly. My personal favorite s is a collection of linked short stories, titled Stuck Here. In most of the stories it follows an alien stuck on earth until the world progresses enough to replace a broken space ship part.  At just under 200 pages I read most of it in one sitting. Admittedly I couldn’t put it down, even though half of the stories I had already had the pleasure of reading in group.  It can be purchased for your e reader at the low price of $0.99, or you can buy a paperback copy (which I did) at $7.65 HERE. You’ll be glad you did.

The second author I would like to share with you, reader, is Bob White.  He writes Police procedural books. I admit, I do not typically like crime thriller novels-But Bob’s writing style is so flawless that I am always riveted from the first paragraph through to the last captivating page. He already has something of a following, but just in case you are not aware of his genius, you can find his work on amazon HERE. Most of his books sell for the e reader at $2.99, or you can order paperbacks.

Not only are these two authors fantastic writers, they are awesome people. I look up to both of them, and greatly value their feedback each week on my own work. This is my way of giving them a salute, and offering my thanks for helping me believe in my own talents.

For those of you who dream of writing, I (again) urge you to find a local writing group. It honestly will help you become the best writer that you can be. Bonus, You get to rub shoulders with some pretty amazing and talented like-minded individuals.

Fiore

He spent his first few weeks of life in a plastic tub, a synthetically fabricated environment designed to grow him as strong as he could be. Eventually, he couldn’t fit in the space he was allowed, and they moved him to a larger container. Though entirely alone, he was given all the nutrients and warmth he needed to be strong. They groomed him and shaped him into the perfect specimen. Every day they watched him, never letting anyone else in. Always maintaining his needs.

When he was old enough, they removed him from his controlled space and lined him up with others who synthetically came to be, like him. Dozens of his brothers and sister, unknown to him before now, stretched out in row upon row to his left and to his right, mere inches apart. Never touching, never speaking.  Always growing stronger, taller, more perfect.

Forces of the world ripped at them. Onslaughts from above. Sometimes days or weeks without water. They were trampled and exposed to contamination. Some of his brethren fell, but not him. He stood fast, held the line. Stayed strong.

Time found him. No matter how perfect his upbringing, no matter how strong they had made him, he was not immortal. He withered, unable to withstand the piercing cold. To his left and to his right, no others stood. Once again he was alone.

He ended quietly. His remains and the remains of his kind were gathered into bins. The nutrients from their decay would be reused to fuel the next wave of their kind. The entirety of what he was no more than a blink in the span of time.

And so it continues.

Generation after generation.

Without end.

 

 flower in pot

Chicago Part 5, The End

 

 

109

On my Final day in Chicago, Robbie took me to see the historic Wrigley Field. There was a game going on, So I got to see what it is like on a game day. We had walked past it several times on our way home from the subway, throughout my visit, but it was always at night so I hadn’t really  experienced it yet.

 

One very interesting thing was the stadium seating on the rooftops of apartment buildings near the field. There is no big parking lot, or any grassy fields near the stadium. It goes from apartments and businesses on one side, right to the stadium on the other. It’s an exciting feeling, being right in the middle of it.

 

We decided not to actually go to the game, since I’m not much of a sports fan. There was enough history on the walls around the stadium to suit me just fine.

231 232 236 237 238 239 240 242 244 249 251234241243245248

Robbie also took me to a mystic shop where I picked up some Chamomile tea, and a Hematite ring on the cheap. Finally we stopped at a Chicago diner, where the waiter tried to talk me out of getting on the plane home. I’m not going to lie, I really wanted to say, “Okay, I’ll stay.” He even hugged me and said, “I hope to see you again soon.”

Robbie’s roommate offered to let me live there, and I was assured by multiple people with the appropriate authority that a job was mine if I decided to stay. It was a hard to say no. But there was an adorable dog and a loving husband waiting for me back home, so when the time came, I did get on the plane; but not without a long and tearful goodbye with Robbie.

Boy was I sorry I got on the plane once I landed in Huston! For some reason, United scheduled barely an hour between my flight from Chicago and my flight to Ontario. My first flight took too long to taxi to the gate, and by the time I could get off the plane I had 12 minutes to get from gate E3 to gate B85. For those of you who are not familiar with Huston, you know that that is FAR, FAR apart. I ran, literally, through the airport. No Stops, strait to my gate. Luckily the signs are fairly clear. By the time I actually got to the gate, they were paging me. I told at the United employee that I was the person she was paging in between pants- I am really out of shape.

“I don’t know what you’ve been doing. The planes been here since 9.” She grumped at me while scanning my boarding pass.

“I was taxing on the runway. It’s your plane that took too long!” I snarled back. Since when is being rude considered customer service? FAIL United. Total Fail.

Before I even got out the last word she rolled her eyes at me and waved her hand to shush me. ” Well you’re the last person to board. They’re waiting.” She said in the most snarky tone I’ve ever heard.

I growled (yeah, I was that pissed off) and stomped down the ramp to my plane. The crew on this plane made up for the cow that I talked to in Huston.

The Flight attendant called over the intercom, “has anyone lost a wallet?”

Everyone immediately looked around.

“Now that we have your attention, please pay attention to an important safety announcement.”

Everyone laughed, relieved their wallets were safe, and paid attention.

Even though my entire visit to Huston consisted of a jog through the airport and an interaction with one employee, my view of that city will be forever tainted by my bad experience. I don’t think I will ever visit there as a tourist. I can guarantee you I will never, NEVER book a flight that has a layover there, especially if I am flying United. Bad impressions tend to be more permanent than good ones. I’m not sure why, but it’s how the world works.

I arrived back in Ontario, and had lunch with my husband before driving an hour and a half home.  I had only slept three hours the night before, and was more than a little cranky. At my Husband’s urging I laid down for a nap, and didn’t wake up until the following day. Jet lag is apparently a real thing.

With that, my journey was at an end. I will definitely return to Chicago at the first opportunity. Maybe to live there, who knows.

 

Chicago Part 4

 

Half way through my visit I had the immeasurable pleasure of visiting the Chicago Art institute. It is an enormous museum that houses amazing pieces from all over the world, from Africa, to Europe, to Japan. Sadly the Egyptian exhibit was not open yet, but I honestly wouldn’t have had time to see it all anyway; Partially because I lingered at the impressionists, but mostly because the renaissance art nearly took my breath away. I actually had to sit in the room with the Italian renaissance art. It overpowered me. Just thinking of the mastery that these artists must have to create such exquisite, lifelike portraits staggers me.

 

Some of my pictures are below. Robbie limited me to two pictures per room, because he wanted me to see as much as possible and he knew I would spend three hours per room trying to catalog it all. In the end it was wise, given that the pictures do not begin to do any of it justice. To get the true experience, you have to be standing before these pieces in person. Nothing else will do.

 

229 228 227 224 216 - Copy 217 221 223 214 - Copy 213 - Copy 212 - Copy 210 - Copy 204 - Copy 207 - Copy 209 - Copy 206 - Copy 201 - Copy 200 - Copy 202 - Copy 203 - Copy 197 - Copy 196 - Copy 194 - Copy 193 - Copy 187 - Copy 188 - Copy 191 - Copy 192 - Copy 184 - Copy 182 - Copy 183 - Copy 181 - Copy 175 - Copy - Copy 177 - Copy 178 - Copy 179 - Copy - Copy 174 - Copy (2)

 

There was a park outside the Museum, called Millennium Park,  that was nearly as stunning as the inside.

110 111 112 113 115 119 120 121 122 124 142 144 156

 

Chicago has this huge landmark that I will not pretend to understand. I am not a modern art person. But I was there, so what the heck, I took a picture of it.

145

That night I got to tour the bars.  The first bar we went to was having a throwback to the early 90’s night. Barf. I despise 80’s and early 90’s music, with very few exceptions. But in the spirit of being somewhere new, I danced. After a couple hours, we walked to a new bar. It was a cute little dive bar with a seaside theme that I unfortunately don’t remember the name of,  and sang karaoke. This bar I loved. I am not ashamed to say I rock out, karaoke style. I got to hang out with a bunch of Robbie’s friends, who welcomed me and made me feel at home. I don’t really remember getting back to Robbie’s house. I vaguely remember a cab. You know why.

On my Second to last night one of Robbie’s friends was having a surprise birthday party for another friend, so Robbie brought me along. I felt a bit awkward at first, since Robbie was really the only person I knew. But again the good people of Chicago folded me into the conversation like I knew them for years, making me feel right at home. We ate at an Italian restaurant, then we went to a couple bars in Boys town. This is the primarily gay district of Chicago. I had a blast! I don’t remember the name of the first club, but it had loud dance music and the accompanying music videos on the walls. Nothing I’m used to, but I found it entertaining. I love how open and proud the gay community is. There are a lot of places in this country where being who you are is still not okay. I was pleased to find that Chicago is not one of those places.

The next place we went is a well known local hot spot called Berlin. There was actually a cover charge, something I have heard about but never experienced. The inside was blaring with techno music, with people of all shapes sizes and genders dancing together. I enjoyed dancing, but I only hung in there until about 2 am. The loud music, drinking and dancing are all not things I typically indulge in, so I was tired. Robbie was a good sport and noticed I was losing steam, so he was the one who suggested we take a cab home.

We crashed out until noon the next day.

Chicago Part 3

006 007 011

The view from Robbie’s rooftop, Pictured above.  Various Buildings and sights I snapped shots of while walking around below.

020 021 023 041 019018017101042

My first couple of days in Chicago were spent exploring the busy, touristy part of Chicago. On the first day we visited Willis Tower, which is more well known by its previous name, the Sears Tower. Interestingly, what it is called depends on who you ask. Robbie’s flight attendant roommate, who is also from England, says that it is the Willis tower. Chicago natives and transplants say vehemently, “I don’t care what it says on the front. It will always be the Sears Tower.”  That attitude seems to be more common than those who accept the skyscrapers re-branding.

049 047 046

I had the pleasure of visiting the Sky deck, on the 103rd floor of the Tower. At $19 a ticket, the price seemed a bit steep. But, this being my first visit to Chicago, it would seem a shame to miss it, so up we went.

The lobby going up to the Skydeck has a lot of fascinating facts, and Robbie filled me in on any that they didn’t have posted on the walls.  For example, The Tower contains 76,000 tons of steel.  There is 44,000 miles of wiring within the Tower. There are 6 robots that wash the window of the tower, which takes weeks to complete. Sears tower was built in 1973, and held the record for the tallest building in the world for almost 25 years. On a clear day you can see for  50 miles out of the window.

The elevators to this deck are extremely fast. It only took about a minute to reach the top. It felt much like it does when an airplane is taking off. As someone who enjoys heights, I loved it.

There are these glass boxes that stick out from the side of the building, allowing tourists a view strait down to the city streets below. Standing in this box unnerved me just a bit. I know that the builders would never risk a lawsuit, so I know that these boxes must be able to take the weight of a an elephant; but the thing is, there were a lot of people piling into them, and I’ve never looked straight down through glass that far.  I have a picture below, But the glair off the glass masks the overwhelming feel of the view.

064

Once I had my feet back on solid steel and concrete, I got some really beautiful pictures of the city out the window.

083 082 081 075 074 070

The writer in me couldn’t resist getting a picture of the Chicago sun times Building.

072

In the gift shop downstairs there were these cool little museum-like displays about different Chicago events. I gravitated to this one about the Great Chicago Fire, history being a favorite subject of mine. The fire burned for roughly two days in 1871. The Windy City unfortunately provided the perfect conditions to fan the flames. The damage spanned across 4 miles and did an estimated 2 million dollars in damage. Roughly 300 people died. Looking at these silver spoons melted together was as eerie to me as seeing images of the Titanic wreckage.

094

I bought a postcard and a magnet, and then we headed out to see more of the Windy City. For dinner, we had to get a Chicago deep dish pizza. Robbie is a vegetarian, so we ordered spinach, artichoke and cheese. Yum!

My impression of the people here was mixed. When walking around or sitting next to someone on the subway, everyone acts like you aren’t there, even though you cannot help physically touching the people next to you. Not in the creepy, “I must touch it!” sort of way. More like, there as so many people next to you that your arm and hers are pressed up against one another. Your other leg is touching the guy on your other side. I am not accustomed to being close to strangers at all, so this was something that took a bit of getting used to. But some people were exceptionally friendly. Throughout the week I was hugged by numerous new acquaintances. More than one person told me they would like it if I stayed in Chicago. A not-so-small part of me really wanted to stay.

By the end of our first day, My legs and feet were killing me. I estimate that we walked at least 7 miles. I don’t even walk to the store where I live. It’s too far away. But Robbie took no pity on me, and rightfully so. I was not about to wuss out on seeing as much of Chicago as I could. The moment I saw the city from the top of the Tower, I was in love. My feet had little choice but to get on board.