n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
umbrian summer.

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soundbite.

so, maybe this is one where i provide more-than-the-usual amount of context.  because you know, maybe it's "just me"...

okay.  so i come into work this Roman morning, after having already read in my freebie Roman newspaper, that New Orleans is submerged.  i go to the good old New York Times online (because until they make me pay, i will do so every morning of my life), and i click predictably on the very-impressive picture of the Big Easy under big water.  i start reading the article.

i get to the fourth paragraph:

As rising water and widespread devastation hobbled rescue and recovery efforts, the authorities could only guess at the death toll in New Orleans and across the Gulf Coast.  In Mississippi alone, officials raised the official count of the dead to at least 100.

okay, i think.  100 people and rising, that's no joke.  the back of my mind starts working beaver-like to remember if i know anyone who lives in any of these places.  i go on to the next line:

"It looks like Hiroshima is what it looks like," Gov. Haley Barbour said, describing parts of Harrison County, Miss.

...

i clean the sputtered cappuccino off my keyboard.  i read the two paragraphs again.  for good measure, i look up this Governor Haley Barbour, just in case he actually *saw* Hiroshima, in person (doesn't seem like it).  finally, since i am on Wikipedia anyway, i look up pictures and articles on Hiroshima.  because maybe in my morning stupor i was confusing it with some city that had been devastated by an atomic bomb, killing what -- 80,000 people?

sigh.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Roma]
[mercoledž 31 agosto 2005 ore 09:21:27] []

memory lapse.

it's driving me crazy.

what *was* that John Updike story (at least i think it was John Updike, although it might have been another, Updike-y writer with that oh-so-particular, New-Yorker-Magazine, je ne sais quoi...) -- the one about the hobo that lived on the streets of the East Village?  there's a scene when the reporter (narrator, whatever) is sitting with him (or not) at a diner where all he does (the hobo) is eat the ketchup out of the bottle that's on the table, so he doesn't have to actually pay for anything...  and this guy, the hobo -- his thing is that he's writing (and jealously guarding) some kind of History of the World, as he (the hobo) calls it (as you can see this not-remembering is making a wreck out of my writing skills)...  and it (the novel, this "opus") seems to be partly or wholly a collection of everything this hobo has ever overheard during his hobo life in New York City -- every conversation fragment, every shred of life-witnessed, in words and whispers and (maybe also) in billboard signs and bumper stickers.

i suddenly thought of it, because i just came upon this (a most fantastic intersection of the respective randomnesses of the Blogosphere and the Big Apple).

and it is driving me nuts that i can't remember the story...

help?


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Roma]
[lunedž 29 agosto 2005 ore 13:38:05] []

fer-ra-gů-sto.

six days.  five provinces.  four regions.

three Castelli Romani -- Frascati, Nemi and Marino (and one fantastic porchetta sandwich).  one Cesanese afternoon (Sora Maria at OlŤvano Romano).  one outdoor movie on Isola Tiberina (Sideways, for the *third* time...).  one lake (Bracciano, of course) and two laketowns -- Anguillara Sabazia and Trevignano.  two hilltowns -- Calcata and Lucignano (well alright so Lucignano's not new).  one visit to a Modenese acetaia for a traditional aceto balsamico tasting.  one Italian opera (Nabucco!) at the most-stupendous Arena di Verona.  and a rather nice corduroy skirt from Promod.

also.  i have decided that i love Verona.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Roma]
[martedž 23 agosto 2005 ore 08:23:43] []

it's not my fault.

so a friend in Malta suggested last week that we talk on Skype (this being about the fourteenth person who has asked me this year if i have said Skype).  and Andrew said my laptop was slow because my hard drive was dangerously full (it's a paltry 17 gigs but that's what happens when you insist on having an IBM in Italy and have to settle with the Employee Friends n' Family special).

and so i figured it was time to buy (A) a headset, and (B) some kind of external drive.  (this is where i will reluctantly admit that i *have* been having casual-but-recurring dreams about digital cameras, thanks to the big discussion over at The Network about the merits of the Kodak EasyShare 4m 10x 6490 over Kevin's old Olympus.)

so yesterday, after having checked that i actually *have* money in the bank (fourth wage payment since i started, fourth one that has been over a week late, and no one can tell you where your money is because "Oracle" is closed till August 18th.  argh.) -- i set off intrepidly for Cinecitta' Due -- the big old Centro Commerciale shopping mall on the outskirts of Rome (another fault-point to Andrew for telling me about it and the electronics/IT store they have there).

i spend three and a half hours at the mall (some other time i might write about what it felt like to walk into a real shopping mall after so long:  that decided atmospheric change as you cross the double-glass-door boundary and are immediately ensconced in the slightly reassuring, slightly frightening cocoon of air-conditioned MALLNESS; you can almost hear the subliminal voices hissing through the elevator music -- "acquire!  acquire!").

in the course of these three and a half hours i return to the computer place *three* times.  on my first trip, i decide nonchalantly to check out the digital cameras, thinking calmly that they'll all be ludicrously expensive anyway.

indeed.

there is a Panasonic LZ1 (4m, 6x optical, and *small* yo!) for e269.  there is (gasp!) the Kodak 6490 in all it's 4m, 10x optical (!) madness -- for e279.  and there is a Fuji S3500 4m, 6x optical for a crazy e199.  i know the model numbers because on my second trip back to drool over the things, i scribbled them on the back of the PagoBANCOMAT receipt from my external drive and headset purchase (which i dutifully performed in visit #1).  naively i told myself that i would find an Internet point in the mall and check them out "properly" before rushing headlong into some frivolous commitment.

as they say on New Jersey Transit, "mmm-hmmmm".

so.  by 7:30pm i have been wandering around the mall for over three hours.  i have not eaten or drunk anything (and there is no Internet point at Cinecitta Due).  i am starting to babble incoherent Euro-to-Dollar conversion algorithms.  i decide to head back one last time just to "talk to a salesperson" and "see what they say".  i think to myself, this is Italy; they will be completely uninterested in answering any questions i might have, or doing anything remotely conducive to closing a sale.  i will surely get annoyed and walk out safe and camera-less.  and it will be for the best.

right.

the first redshirted storeperson i find is indeed uninterested in me.  but unfortunately she passes me on to another, who seems to know a little bit about digital cameras, and (ack!) seems to actually care about my making the right choice.  of course, when i point my three "potentials" out to him and ask him what he thinks, he taps the glass above the Kodak.  this is no surprise to me (more like a disappointment, since it is the one i secretly want, but am trying desperately and pervertedly not to buy):  i nod as he mentions the 10x optical zoom.  i already know about the Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens.  i almost tell him he should check out the Amazon reviews.  towards the end i try a feeble "but this is going to be my first digital camera ever...  do you think it's right for me to start with something this good?"  -- and he looks at me like i am slightly mad.  clearly he's never met a woman who applies the rules of guilt-ridden masochism to the world of retail.

(i buy the extra 256 meg memory card too, of course.)

and as i walk out of the store, the guy-at-the-exit-who-checks-and-punches-your-receipt grins and says "third time?  i'm beginning to wonder if you come back just for me..."

i laugh weakly.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[sabato 13 agosto 2005 ore 23:42:25] []

girl i didn't know you could get down like that.

i walk viale giulio cesare in the rain (for once i have thought to take my umbrella, for once i manage to jump all the puddles).

this morning the headphones are on, and a Victor Calderone club mix is newyorking down my spine like a strobelight at Au Bar.

this morning i am twenty-eight, and i can still tolerate african drums, synth, and Beyoncť.  together.

this morning (because Metro -- my free-city-newspaper-of-choice -- is in ferie), i am carrying Jack Kerouac:
...because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'

bootylicious.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Roma]
[mercoledž 03 agosto 2005 ore 10:45:19] []