Blog Book Club: Eat, pray, love

I was in a book club a while back and the things I liked most about it were that I had help finding good books (I’m not great at choosing books so I rely on Oprah and various book awards). I also liked hearing other opinions about characters, motivations, plot etc. I wonder if I could get a book club started online. Has anyone read a book recently that they would like to discuss on a blog? If so let me know and I’ll read it.

I recently read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. According to google this is her official website. I found it worth talking about and would recommend it with some reservations. Firstly, the writer is a bit of a nut. She seems excessively clingy and insecure in her relationships with men (my interpretation of her descriptions). There is a line in the book where she says something like (when you are in a deep depression) if you find a bit of happiness, grab it by the ankles and let it drag you out of the mud. For some reason this struck me as a passive, victim-like attitude. Although I must admit the imagery of this description is certainly memorable! The other reservation I am expressing mainly for my mom. The author is extremely liberal and somewhat naïve. I don’t think my mom would be able to see past the rare isolated political comments and liberal attitudes in order to get anything useful out of the book.

The thing I liked most about the book was that the author is searching for something important (God, inner peace, spirituality?) and she is not biased by religion. The first part of her book is sort of a recovery from a stressful divorce and bout with depression. She spends all day eating wonderful pasta dishes in Italy and learning the Italian language for the sheer beauty of it. This entire third of the book is about pleasure. Next, she feels well enough to try meditating at an Ashram (I haven’t really researched this much, but it sounds sort of like a cult– but in a good way). Here she finds inner peace (my over-simplified interpretation). I liked that learning to meditate was a struggle for her, but something she was eventually able to ‘accomplish’. The last part of the book takes place in Bali where she learns to balance pleasure with her newfound inner peace, while interacting to some extent with the real world. I love that she was able to learn so much about herself on this personal journey. It made me want to try to be a better person too. I’ve always wanted to learn to meditate (or hypnotize myself) in order to better control my emotions/thoughts and just relax. It also brought up an interesting point that I’d love to discuss. How does any of this apply in real life. I still have to get up in the morning and work with certain people that make my life miserable and deal with issues that are petty or boring or difficult. I even have my doubts that the author is as changed as she thinks she is. It’s easy to become a different person in a different setting. But at the very end of the book she meets a wonderful man who she describes as nearly perfect (again my interpretation). I would predict she is headed for a repeat of whatever relationship problems she’s had in her past (no-one is that perfect).

Comments appreciated.


Happy Holidays

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I’m writing one of those ‘what I did this year’ holiday letters on my blog since I don’t send Christmas cards. A friend of mine mentioned that she wasn’t sure how to talk about the highlights of the year in her Christmas letter without sounding ‘braggy’. I told her that they all end up sounding braggy, so just don’t worry about it. The alternative would be to include more downers, but that’s just no fun. My ‘year-in-review highlights’ involve trips. San Diego this March was great, even though the meeting wasn’t good. Horton plaza and the Gaslight District are nice for shopping and eating. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to the Brigantine on Coronado Island for Happy Hour oysters. I did see Haus Frau and the ‘offspring’ which was great! We also got to see Aldo’s mom (who we hadn’t seen in ages). He even talked to his brother.

The trip to France and Mallorca was the highlight, but I’ve already posted about that. I was great to get together with Kitty and her hubby for that trip; we had a great time even though I was sick the whole time. Duluth is always a fun trip and even though I had a rough time at the marathon (June), it’s always nice to get up north in the summer. Of course the Christmas Market trip was fabulous. “Thank you for the fellowship” to all who were there!

My job is same-old, same-old, but I’m learning to accept that (and more importantly those) which (whom) I cannot change. The hours are good and the salary is great. I love the new patio. On that note, we may even get a settlement from the Minneapolis Airport folks from the noise lawsuit (although we’re not holding our breath). It would be great if we could get some better (i.e. soundproof) windows.

I’m trying to get back to running regularly after the 2 weeks off and it has been difficult. The running/biking paths are icy, so I’m mostly stuck at the gym. I miss sailing with my exercise-friends and I even miss cheering at Aldo’s bike races. Apparently the exercise-friends contingent have been cross country skiing and are planning an ice skating get together. I may have to try a winter sport. I like the snow, but I miss the sun!

The worst part of the year was the death of my Grandmother; but for some reason I feel like she’s nearer now. I know this sounds weird, but I think of her often and the memories make me feel good (warm and fuzzy), like she’s my new guardian angel. It even helps to think of her when I get depressed, like she’s comforting me.

I don’t do New Year resolutions, but if I did, I’d like to do better with keeping in touch with friends (both here in Minneapolis and in other states). Every year I feel guilty about not sending Christmas cards, but one of my friends pointed out that a phone call is more personal and I tend to agree. I’ll never be one of those gregarious people who throw fabulous dinner parties either, but then again I think it’s more fun to get together with fewer people at a time. We’re going to a Wine and Food tasting event in February with some friends and we may spend the night downtown, like taking a mini-vacation in our own town. Thanks for the photos Kitty!


Have a Great New Year Everyone!




baden-copy.jpgBaden beacon in a shrouded land

Chance since takes what’s given

While your waters soothe the aching bones

Enrich these eyes worth living

Perched high to stem any rising tide

You lend your name while choosing

A daughter’s hand, or son’s pursuit

What mattered most was the unions

Still, you host the regal and welcome the famed

The attraction is most obvious

In stolen moments you hold me firm

I say you twice Baden-Baden


Grand Circle Tours

I highly recommend this travel company (GCT)  for well organized, inexpensive trips to Europe and elsewhere.  We had a fabulous time traveling down the Rhine from Switzerland to the Netherlands with abundant stops at Christmas Markets in France and Germany.  Much fun was had by all!  More posts to come.  I’m expecting Toby and Aldo to submit stories and Kitty got some great photos.

It’s great to be back in the good old US of A where I can pee for free in a well sanitized bathroom practically anywhere I want public and private.