Migration — What I’m Reading Now

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Second in an occasional series. Posting this today on Amazon.  Actually I’ve read my friend Gina Greenlee’s Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road in three forms. The first edition of this amazing collection of short essays arrived as “postcards” that she sent to the Hartford Courant, the paper where we both worked. Each card contained a lesson that she learned from a solo voyage around the world.The essays then appeared on her web site with contributions from friends added to the mix.Now enhanced with illustrations by Dana Robinson, the postcards and the pearls they contain are collected in print. In a few brief words Gina creates images of New Zealand, Vietnam, and Nepal (while the Maoists raged nearby but not that nearby). But mostly the essays are about seizing and enjoying whatever moment one is in, about being flexible, and about trusting one’s instincts. Each essay opens with a quote from such luminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Zora Neale Hurston, Rumi, Steve Allen, Audre Lorde. Then Gina describes an event, or a conversation, or an interaction from which she has learned something, and the essay concludes with the lesson to be gleaned from the “postcard.”

My favorite is “Role Model,” instructions how not to look like an American while traveling overseas. It opens with a quote from that expert in fabulousness RuPaul: “With hair, heels, and attitude, honey, I am through the roof.” Then Gina describes an encounter with a Belgian woman in Galilee who explains how to choose colors, fabrics, shoes, and accessories to avoid that Gringo look. The essay ends, “Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own.”

I could describe other terrific stuff, but everyone should buy this book: It’s profound and entertaining, educational and lighthearted, global and minutely specific work.

Congratulations on a great job, Gina!

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