n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
gondolas.  mmmm.

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i come home, pleased with my productivity:  i have picked up my finally-repaired handbag from the calzolaio at Campo de' Fiori (the one who is never open -- tonight was my fourth attempt); i have taken the trash out (dentice from last week's sunday lunch -- blech); i have dropped off a coat and skirt at the sartoria.

i come home.

for the second night in a row i make puntarelle.  for the second night in a row i drink my glass of wine alone, and wonder -- while trying not to -- what i will do with not being here.

the laptop is set to play the Italian Favorites.  it's been a while since i needed the music.  this morning too, i put a new battery in the cheesy-jetdrive-mp3-player that holds my paltry 256 megabytes of commuter-desperate distraction.

there is Sting and Zucchero doing the Italian Mad About You.  i found this song so long ago -- so long before i had any idea what puntaralle were, who Ciro was, and how to walk to San Pietro with my eyes closed.  in my fifth-storey walkup on Carmine Street, i loved this song before all these things.

con l'archi di tristezza.

there is Wendy Matthews from a summer in Dubai, from humidity that made the living-room carpet come unglued and bump up like so many sand dunes:  there's not a cloud in the sky.  it's as blue as your goodbye.  and i thought that it would rain, the day you went away.

today is the 30th of January.  and like in school, when i'd celebrate the last Monday in fifth grade, the last Tuesday, the last-of-everything -- i think about how February has only 28 days, and that this will surely be the last 30th-of-the-month, in Italy.  for me.  for a while.

Vasco says voglio una vita, and i wallow some more in the sorry-for-myselfness of my appropriately-soundtracked-evening.  i think about how many times i have done this.  how tired i am of it.

how this is home.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[lunedì 30 gennaio 2006 ore 21:31:35] []

shameless plug-of-the-month.

(through which -- in the interests of full disclosure -- i may win an iPod Shuffle.)

but seriously.  i've been a member of WorldWIT for over three years now, and out of all the silly (and not-so-silly) mailing-list-community-thingies i have come across, this is by far and away (ack! - cliché! cliché!) the most informative, the least rancorous (have you SEEN the flame-fights that break out on some of these things?!) and the uh, free-est.  as in, membership is free (this is important for a woman who believes networking shouldn't be about how much money you happen to have, it should be about how good and valuable a networker you are -- take note Ecademy), and partcipation is free -- as much or as little as you want.

in short, WorldWIT is one of those few communities that seems to be putting the "working" back into networking...  and making women look pretty good in the process, too.

WorldWIT - Women.  Insights.  Technology.

enjoy.  and as usual, tell them i sent you?

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[domenica 29 gennaio 2006 ore 22:10:44] []

i think this one needs to be told the old-fashioned way.

this morning i go to log in to Yahoo!.  (Random Aside: do you put a period/full-stop after a name-brand like Yahoo! when it has an exclamation point?  it looks funny to me, but if i didn't put it there, you'd think i was shouting "Yahoo!", and not just saying "Yahoo." -- right?  sigh.  can you tell that Lynne Truss is the Bathroom Book of the Month?)

anyway, AS I WAS SAYING.  i'm about to click into Yahoo! Mail, when I notice the Entertainment headline and photo for Tom Hanks halfway down the page: "'Da Vinci Code' will debut at Cannes".  and against my better judgement, i click through and skim the article:

Case cracked: "The Da Vinci Code" will be the opening-night movie at the Cannes Film Festival in May, organizers said.  Based on Dan Brown's esoteric thriller about code-breaking and conspiracy, the film will debut at the Riviera festival and in French theaters on May 17, the festival said Saturday.

so, having a problem with the use of the word "esoteric" for (ahem) The Da Vinci Code, i ask my trusty Google to define: esoteric.  among others (some of which link to sketch sites, so be warned), i get:

- Hidden or deeper knowledge or teachings that are possessed or understood only by a few.

- Often used to mean 'secret' or 'magical' knowledge of some kind.  Within Buddhist practice, implies experience-based practice that cannot be completely described by words.  Most groups forbid or restrict attempts to do so in order to protect practitioners from misinterpreted practices that could cause harm.  It is said that esoteric teachings represent a truth in its purest form, apart from description.
interesting, but i am discouraged.  nothing so far that i can categorically hold up as a glaringly unassailable point against the use of the word 'esoteric' for a Dan Brown thriller.  i mean come *on*.

- confined to and understandable by only an enlightened inner circle; "a compilation of esoteric philosophical theories"
sigh.  Princeton gets points for trying, bless them.  especially given the irony that, with about 36 million copies out there, this book's got a pretty big enlightened circle.

- As used by self-proclaimed "esoterics," it is that world-view which recovers pre-Christian beliefs in God/Goddess dualism, polytheistic practices, astrology, and the alternative history of Jesus which is available to initiated adherents of "esoteric" societies.
i imagine an intro at a cocktail party: "Hi, I'm Joe and I'm an esoteric.  What's *your* name?"
worse still, this is from a site devoted to "Cracking the Da Vinci Code"...

this stuff is *everywhere*.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[lunedì 23 gennaio 2006 ore 22:10:15] []

as the lovely Ms. Spears would say -- i did it again.

so.  this morning i walked into my office to find a strange man on my desk.  that's right, yes.  i said, *on* my desk.

well alright so he was *standing* on my desk.  but still, despite what you might assume goes on in statistical libraries within the UN system, this is not an everyday occurence.  unless, of course, they're re-insulating the very large floor-to-ceiling windows that happen to be right by your desk.

in theory i am all for this kind of thing -- one, because it's been *far* too drafty in that room; and two, because i got to use the word "spackle" in the ensuing office-conversation about general insulation and plastering techniques.  (i like the word spackle.)  but, within five minutes of the desk-walkers having left, the smell of silicone in the room was making my head spin (and it didn't help that, with the now-and-newly, super-insulated windows, *none* of that smell was getting out of the room).  so i decided to seize the occasion, and go downstairs for a coffee.

i know.  so far this constitutes as perfectly rational behavior on my part.  hm.  next i decide (while waiting for the elevator), to "pass by" that little bookstore they have here in FAO, on my way to the coffee bar.

the one that's having a sale.
as in, selected books at 50% off.
as in, half-price.

anyway.  here are the 5 *new* reasons why i shouldn't be allowed into bookstores:

* Laura Esquivel - Swift as Desire.
so i'll admit: i didn't buy this one because i liked the blurb-on-the-back, or because i did the random-page-check and liked the writing.  i bought it because A, it was under 4 (how can you lose?) Euros; and B, because this (it informed me on the front-cover) is the woman who wrote Like Water for Chocolate, and so i am a fan (not so much because i loved reading Like Water, but because i respect -- deeply and unquestioningly -- anyone who's published a creative work with the word chocolate in its title).

* Colette - Gigi and The Cat.
again, an admission: i have already *read* Gigi.  like, uh, more than once.  for example (and most recently), while temping as the reservation-girl-and-all-round-phone-answerer at Eugene on 27th between 5th and 6th (remember -- Eugene hates when you call his nightclub "Eugene's" with a possessive S; don't ever do it in front of him).  and between the number of times i've read the book and watched the movie and listened to the Lerner & Loewe  score, i know most of the dialogues by heart.  but again, this was under 4 bucks.  thank heaven!

* Graham Greene - The End of the Affair.
admission #3: the number of Graham Greene works i have read that exceed a 2000-word-count  = O.
also, this one was e3.50.  ha.

* Jodi Picoult - My Sister's Keeper.
i almost didn't pick this one up, it looked so much like one of those bestseller-ey types that my parents have so many of on the bookshelf at home...  but for some reason i did stop to read the back-cover:
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be.  By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and injections to help her sister, Kate, fight leukemia.  Anna was born for this purpose, her parents tell her, which is why they love her even more.  But now she can't help but wonder what her life would be like if it weren't tied to her sister's...  and so she makes a decision that for most, at any age, would be too difficult to bear, and sues her parents for the rights to her own body.
and -- well yes -- it *could* turn out to read like a made-for-tv-movie (on the WB, no less).  but again; for some reason (and no, it wasn't the price this time), i litmus-tested a few random pages, and thank God, the person who wrote the book doesn't seem to be the person who wrote the back-cover-blurb ("would be too difficult to bear" -- what *is* that?)
anyway, so i bought it.  we shall see.

* Diana Abu-Jaber - Crescent.
i started reading this book about three years ago, on one of many (many!) trips to Indigo Books in Richmond Hill, Toronto.  that was when i was living that weird limbo life -- between the previous eight years in New York City, and the next three (as yet unknown) years in Italy.  anyway, this must have been the very last book i bought (note: if you are unemployed and waiting for your Italian visa to be processed, and it is a Torontonian winter, you will get a LOT of reading done), and in fact i never finished it, and had to leave it behind for Zainab.
who knows?  maybe it will make for perfect reading on the plane-ride back to Canada next month.  lord knows i'll need the distraction.

and again: spackle, spackle, spackle.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Roma]
[mercoledì 18 gennaio 2006 ore 12:16:07] []

things i know i shouldn't be so damn opinionated about.

* people who use comic sans ms for work-related emails.  sorry.  expertise, professionalism and respectability are *not* what i think of when i read an email in this font.  pre-schooler birthday parties, charity bazaars, and limericks on the other hand? yes.
* people who interrupt.
* people who *evite* you and thirty-nine other people (none of whom you've ever met, and they know it) to a seemingly casual houseparty (did i say evite?), and when you call to ask if you can bring along a visiting houseguest, are told oh actually i don't know we kinda invited too many people and we're a little worried they might all show up.  uh-huh.
* open-toed shoes wherein the toes are hanging out over the edge of the shoe.  why didn't you buy the next size up, yo?
* people who can't be bothered to spellcheck *any* correspondence, let alone the corporate kind.
* people who KNOW YOU and spell your name wrong in an email (that they've written in response to one that you've sent them, WITH YOUR NAME AT THE BOTTOM).
* people who interrupt (people who repeat themselves are just *fine* though).

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[martedì 17 gennaio 2006 ore 00:14:34] []

i told him.  i said, thank goodness you write these things.

But bigger than the naked people and the queens were the sheriff's department employees, marching with their partners [...].  There were police department employees, marching with their partners.  Firemen and Firewomen, marching with their partners.  My world exploded.

i also told him there might be some aunty-hyperventilation...

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[venerdì 13 gennaio 2006 ore 18:41:16] []

...about the fact that i'm moving to Canada next month.

you know that thing with the English -- that whole "the King is Dead, God Save the King" thing?  sometimes i feel like that's the story of my life as far as "coming home" is concerned...


i've put off writing this particular post for a long time now.
i've told myself it was because the timing wasn't right; because people at work weren't all "in the know" yet; because i don't feel like dealing with all the questions that i (presumptiously) worry will come flood-a-flutter to my Inbox; because it feels too "contrived" to make an announcement like this (as if i'm issuing a press release or something); and on and on...  all perfectly good and useful reasons.
when instead, it's because i knew that writing makes it real.


it's been almost three years since i moved to my Bella Italia.
between that first (Federiga's ill-fated family palazzo on Via Carducci in Firenze), and this last (my very idiosyncratic, very perfect Roman bilocale "right by the Pope") -- there have been a lot of homes, and there have been a lot of homecomings.
i have been grateful for every one of them.

but this week as my Olympic Airways nightflight headed into Fiumicino (from Dubai, via Athens, via Much Delay), the plane took a rare route -- low and slow over my very personal, very eternal city.
i caught sight first of Termini -- glaringly rectangular and monstruous among all those twinkling lights.  then the curve of Hotel Exedra around Piazza Repubblica.  then, from what i figured might be Piazza del Popolo, i traced the road out from it, to find the white-extravagant-bonanza-blur of Piazza Venezia.  then the dark curve of the Tevere, and finally -- as the plane started to pull away to the west -- San Pietro.

like i said.  every landing is beautiful when i'm landing in Italy.
but on Tuesday night, i sat back in my seat and wondered: how long will it be before i come home like this, again?

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Giordano Bruno, Roma]
[mercoledì 11 gennaio 2006 ore 22:21:12] []