Open for Lunch (Paperback)

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In her new book, Open for Lunch, Robin Russell Gaiser writes of her encounters with a dozen strangers in casual lunch spots from upstate New York to Asheville, North Carolina. She began these encounters almost by chance when she invited someone in line with her at a Subway restaurant to share her table. But as she pursued such encounters over the years, she gradually became "the reporter reporting on myself. Soon the stunning stories of my lunch mates took me deeply into my own narrative."
Open for Lunch speaks from the heart, both about the moving, fascinating stories of the people she meets, but also about herself. In the words of Lois McMahon, PhD, "Gaiser is a survivor who has overcome personal tragedy and found healing and the ability to reach out to others to share her wisdom and strength. This book holds invaluable lessons for us all about pain, suffering, redemption, forgiveness, healing and love."

A former teacher and counselor, a singer and musician, Gaiser is a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP) who provides therapeutic music to the ill, the elderly, and the dying in hospital, nursing homes, and hospice settings. Her first book, Musical Morphine: Transforming Pain One Note at a Time, described her work in that field and was a finalist for the 2017 Best Book Awards in Alternative Medicine.

About the Author

Robin Russell Gaiser earned her B.A. in English at The College of William and Mary, where she also sang and played with a folk-rock group, both on campus and in venues in Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. After graduation she taught writing and literature in Fairfax County, Virginia; then, while raising her family, she gave private lessons in guitar and dulcimer and performed publicly under the auspices of the Fairfax County Council of the Arts and the Arlington Humanities Program. She also sang in classical choirs and joined The Mill Run Dulcimer Band, recording seven albums now included in the Smithsonian collection. With her children grown, Robin earned an M.A. in psychology from Marymount University and worked as a high school guidance counselor for eight years. Then, after relocating to upstate N.Y. and becoming caregiver—and bedside musician—for her dying father, she enrolled in a certification program for therapeutic musicians. As a Certified Music Practitioner (CMP), she is trained to provide live, bedside, one-on-one acoustic music to critically and chronically ill, elderly, and dying patients. After forty-three years in northern Virginia and eight years in upstate New York, Robin and her husband relocated to Asheville, NC, where she has pursued both her music and her writing. Her nonfiction has appeared in the women’s literary journal Minerva Rising (“Angels,” Dec. 2012) in three anthologies of short stories published by Grateful Steps Publishing: Drowning Allison & other stories (“Yellow,” 2012), The Cricket & other stories (“Doorways,” 2014), and Bits of Sugar & other stories (“I’ll Fly Away,” 2016); and in Writing in Circles: A Celebration of Women’s Writing, published by Sunburst Cabin Press (“Took Out the Tattered,” 2014). Her essay “How Music Led Me to Memoir” appeared on the blog, Memoir Writers’ Journey, published by Kathy Pooler, in 2014. She will write again for this blog on the November 19, 2018 posting. Robin was a guest columnist for the Great Smokies Review spring, 2018 issue with her piece, “Take Note.” Musical Morphine: Transforming Pain One Note at a Time (Pisgah Press; June, 2016), Robin’s first book, a memoir, was named a finalist in the Best American Book Awards for 2017. Robin was chosen to give a TEDx Talk titled “Good Vibrations: Less Drugs, More Music” on March 3, 2018, at UNCA. This talk is available for viewing on Robin’s website and on You Tube. She may be contacted via her website, or email at

Praise For…

Open for Lunch is much more than the heartwarming stories of Gaiser’s lunchtime encounters with perfect strangers. It is the intimate and unflinching account of her journey to self-discovery, release from heartbreak, and the grace that comes from forgiving others and yourself.
—Linda M. Williams, A.B., MEd
Teacher Mentor/Trainer and Professional Developer

[A]n artfully woven memoir of Gaiser’s family and personal landscape as well as her invited encounters with people she didn’t know... Throughout the telling of her inward journey are remarkable details that take the reader immediately to “place and circumstance.” The stories will also stay with the reader—from start to finish.
—Jan Getz, Peabody Award-winning television producer
former Asst. Professor and Broadcaster in Residence, Point Park University, Pittsburgh

[A]n amazing story-teller. Open for Lunch sings, wails, flails and perseveres with integrity. Thank you, thank you! —The Rev. Dr. Margaret Ann Faeth (Episcopal)

A writer with many stories to tell. [Gaiser] write[s] economically—nothing extraneous to the scene—and with good focus.
—Dr. Rachel Stein, Prof. of English and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Siena College

...[A]n incredible, compelling, important piece.
—Dr. Lisa Bloom, Jay Robinson Distinguished Professor, Western Carolina University

Open for Lunch reveals how intuition has guided Robin into loving places, those experiential moments of grace that ring most faithfully true.... A writer ... who chooses to connect rather than ignore. —Pete Solet, author, Gliding
staff editor, Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine

Robin Gaiser’s prose is vivid and compelling, her descriptions of people and places delicious. You feel like you are sitting there ... and hearing their stories first-hand. It’s a rich, eye-opening experience to learn of others’ goals, struggles, blessings, and challenges, and how those insights can be applied to your own life’s journey. —Susan H. Wayland, Senior Executive Service (ret.)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Open for Lunch is a heartfelt memoir that examines the profound and lasting effects of the relationship between an only daughter and her mother. Through honest reflection, the author arrives at the difficult truths that have shaped her life—including her penchant for inviting strangers to lunch. These chance encounters unfold in surprising ways, from the mundane to the magical. —Paula D. Fleming, writer and editor
Director, HR Policy and Communications (retired), Xerox Corporation

Robin Gaiser has an extraordinary gift—though sometimes she might call it a heavy burden—for paying attention. She sees, hears, feels and even smells acutely the complexities and contradictions of life—life which plays out as both ordinary and miraculous, ugly and beautiful, cruel and comforting. She writes powerfully of her own experience of being battered by the worst and healed by the best of these extremes. And she also gives us stories of how others have faced these realities, stories that are as varied as the people telling them to her, a stranger who has invited them to join her for lunch. Luckily for them and for us she has learned a thing or two about listening and about coming out whole on the other side of suffering. —Kit Putnam

I hope that this book reaches the wide audience it deserves. If it finds its way to people who have suffered, they may learn to hope, to seek help, to pray. [It is] powerful, beautiful, unexpected, healing. —Dr. Carol A. Lisi, Director of ESL program
Alexandria City Public Schools, retired

An honest, courageous and deeply personal story about giving of ourselves and receiving gifts in return. The author helps us to understand the significance of forgiving others and, perhaps more importantly, how to forgive ourselves. In our highly polarized culture that teaches us to be wary of the stranger, she shows us that connecting with “the other” honors our shared humanity and can begin with just a simple suggestion that we share a lunch. —Connie Curry Hughes, MSW
Product Details
ISBN: 9781942016403
ISBN-10: 1942016409
Publisher: Pisgah Press LLC
Publication Date: November 15th, 2018
Pages: 204
Language: English